It’s not unheard of for a major league club to sign a guy who has been out of the bigs for a while. Maybe someone who played independent ball or went to Japan or Korea or something. It is unusual for them to give such a guy a three-year deal. But that’s what the Brewers have done today, signing Eric Thames to a three-year contract, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. They have an option on him for a fourth year too. The deal guarantees Thames $16 million. He’ll be paid $4 million in 2017, $5 million in 2018, and $6 million in 2019. The club option for 2020 is $7.5 million with a $1 million buyout.
The idea is for Thames to play first base, replacing Chris Carter, who the Brewers were reported last night to be non-tendering.
As Ashley wrote over the weekend, Thames has not played in the majors since 2012. During his two-year stint here the lefty batted .250/.296/.431 with 21 home runs and a .727 OPS for the Blue Jays and Mariners. He raked in the minors but was unable to replicate those results in the big leagues. After his release from the Astros’ Triple-A Oklahoma in 2013, the outfielder-turned-first baseman signed with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization.
He has been outstanding in the KBO, however, hitting 124 home runs and 379 RBI in three seasons, winning an MVP award, a Golden Glove Award and a trip to the KBO All-Star Game. While understanding that KBO is a hitter’s league, he hit .317/.425/.676 with 40 home runs in 2016. In 2015 he was even better, hitting .381/.497/.790 with 47 homers and 140 driven in.
Adam McAlvy of MLB.com says the Brewers scouted Thames solely from videotape of his KBO games. That may be a gamble — as may be a three-year deal for a guy who hasn’t played stateside since 2012 — but it’s an intriguing one to say the least.
Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:
The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.
The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.
I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.
In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.