Last week there was some Chicago-based speculation that the White Sox might hire Jim Thome as their new hitting coach, but that seemed illogical to me right off the bat and today Thome made it clear that he has no plans to retire, let alone to retire and immediately become a hitting coach.
While appearing at an event in Cleveland this morning Thome shared his plans with Jordan Bastian of MLB.com:
I want to keep playing. I’ll keep playing. I just have to have teams that call me. I can’t go play in the backyard by myself.
That last part is a great out-of-context quote.
Thome is right, of course. Last offseason he was coming off a monster year and ended up re-signing with the Twins in part because he liked Minnesota and in part because the market for 40-year-old designated hitters is so limited. Now he’s coming off a much less impressive season and is a year older, so Thome may not have many choices.
He’s still plenty productive, however, hitting 15 homers, drawing 46 walks, and posting an .838 OPS in 93 games for the Twins and Indians.
The Braves released veteran infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista on Sunday, per a team announcement. Right-hander Lucas Sims was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett in a corresponding move.
Bautista, 37, was recruited by the Braves in mid-April as a potential third base option. He inked a minor league deal with the club and lasted just 12 games in the majors, during which he batted a meager .143/.250/.343 with three extra-base hits and a .593 OPS across 40 plate appearances. While he isn’t too far removed from his last productive season in the big leagues — he collected 40 home runs, a .250 average and 5.3 fWAR with the Blue Jays in 2015 — his power has been noticeably declining over the last three years, and it’s clear the Braves don’t have enough time or opportunity to wait for him to get his groove back.
Without Bautista, Johan Camargo is expected to handle the hot corner on a daily basis. The 24-year-old infielder is working through his sophomore season at the major league level and entered Sunday’s game batting .226/.368/.403 with six extra bases and a .772 OPS in 76 PA. General manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged that top infield prospect Austin Riley could also get a shot at playing third base sometime in 2018, though the club has no current plans to promote him from Triple-A at the moment.