Jim Thome wanted to keep playing at age 42, but no major-league offers came in and now the future Hall of Famer has joined the White Sox’s front office as a special assistant to general manager Rick Hahn.
Thome, who played for the White Sox from 2006-2009, will have a role working with both major leaguers and minor leaguers. “I don’t think I could ask for a better situation than being in Chicago and with the White Sox,” Thome said, via Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com.
Thome has always been incredibly popular everywhere he played, so it’s no surprise that the White Sox wanted to bring him aboard, but it’s sort of a shame that he couldn’t find a part-time designated hitter gig for one last run. He hit .252 with a .752 OPS last season, which, just for instance, is a higher OPS than everyone on the White Sox this year except for Alex Rios and Adam Dunn.
One of the greatest power-and-patience sluggers in MLB history, Thome ranks seventh all time in both homers (612) and walks (1,747) while being 20th in OPS (.956).
The Red Sox signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $13.55 million extension, per a team announcement on Saturday. The agreement will keep Vazquez under contract through the 2021 season and covers two years of arbitration eligibility and the catcher’s first year of free agency. It comes with a $7 million club option (and $250,000 buyout) for 2022 that could get bumped up to $8 million if he reaches 502 plate appearances in both 2020 and 2021. Vazquez has also volunteered to make an annual donation to the Red Sox Foundation as part of his new arrangement with the club.
The 27-year-old backstop is entering his fourth year with the Red Sox in 2018. He’s been a steady defender behind the dish over the last three years and was ranked fifth-best in defense among all American League catchers at the end of the 2017 season. He also enjoyed a breakout performance at the plate, slashing a career-best .290/.330/.404 with five home runs and a .735 OPS in 345 plate appearances.
Come Opening Day, Vazquez is expected to be the Red Sox’ primary option behind the plate, with veteran Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart poised to start in backup roles. Swihart is out of options, but has been groomed for a utility role this spring and could take a few reps in the left field and the infield corners if need be, as it doesn’t appear the club is prepared to trade him just yet.