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.
The Nationals have placed reliever Koda Glover on the 10-day disabled list due to a left hip impingement, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Glover said he is “extremely confident” that he’ll need only the minimum 10 days to recover.
Glover, 24, felt hip discomfort when throwing his first pitch in Tuesday’s relief appearance. He attributed it to the cold, per Janes.
Glover was one of a handful of candidates to handle the ninth inning for the Nationals. It’s been a mixed bag for him, as he has a loss and a blown save along with a 4.15 ERA and a 6/1 K/BB ratio in 8 2/3 innings.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.