Jim Thome’s name hasn’t come up much this offseason, which is somewhat surprising for a guy who hit .249/.386/.481 with 23 homers in 434 plate appearances last year and yet not all that surprising given that he hasn’t played first base regularly since 2005.
Thome still crushes right-handed pitching, but as a 39-year-old designated hitter who’s borderline useless against left-handed pitching and offers only an emergency option at first base his potential suitors are very limited. Thome seems to have realized this three months into the offseason and made it clear yesterday that he’s basically just hoping the White Sox give him a call after dealing him to the Dodgers for the stretch run:
My door is open. All you’ve got to do is call me. We’ll see what happens. Obviously in baseball, I’ve learned that sometimes business moves are made and business decisions are made and you have to respect those decisions and move on. I want to play baseball. Right now, we’re talking to a few teams, so we’ll see what happens. It’s been a slow winter in the market, so we’re waiting to see what’s going to happen and move forward.
While certainly not the MVP-caliber offensive monster he once was, Thome remains very dangerous when spotted versus righties. Against them he batted .262/.383/.498 in 2009 and .274/.402/.552 with an average of 39 homers per 500 from 2007-2009. There are plenty of teams for whom that production would be a huge upgrade, including the White Sox, but manager Ozzie Guillen has said that he wants to keep the DH spot open for a rotation of Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin, Andruw Jones, and Mark Kotsay.
Free agent third baseman Mike Moustakas is drawing interest from at least four clubs, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Friday. The Brewers are the presumed frontrunners to land the infielder, but Heyman adds that the Angels may take the inside edge as Moustakas hails from the San Fernando Valley and has invested in charity efforts in California over the last year. The Phillies and Padres, on the other hand, have been involved to a lesser degree as they’re both thought to be in hot pursuit of fellow free agent third baseman/shortstop Manny Machado, though their interest in the veteran Moustakas could ramp right back up should they lose out on Machado in the weeks to come.
Moustakas, 30, declined a $15 million mutual option with the Brewers at the end of the 2018 season, and like many others left on the market, has yet to find a landing spot in advance of spring training. While he’s several years removed from his last All-Star performance, he ran a decent campaign with the Royals and Brewers last year, slashing a combined .251/.315/.459 with 28 home runs, a .774 OPS, and 2.4 fWAR across 635 plate appearances.
He certainly appears to be a fit in Anaheim, where he could supplant Zack Cozart at the hot corner and balance out the Angels’ right-heavy lineup alongside Kole Calhoun, Justin Bour, and Tommy La Stella. Even if the Angels have serious interest in the third baseman, however, they’re likely to wait and see what kind of contract Machado (and the as-yet unsigned Bryce Harper) fetches before extending any serious offers of their own. They’re far from the only club to use the four-time All-Star as a litmus test this offseason, which has only fueled a growing unrest among MLB players who believe that more serious action — such as a midseason walk-out or a league-wide strike — will need to be taken over the next few months.