There’s a statue of Jim Thome being built outside the Indians’ ballpark, but the 42-year-old slugger is still trying to avoid retirement despite an apparent lack of interest from all 30 teams.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is one of Thome’s closest friends and told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
He still thinks he can play. He misses the game. Baseball is his identity. That’s all he’s done for 20-some years or so. He’s kind of having a hard time adjusting.
Based on his performance last season Thome could still add some value to a team as a part-time designated hitter and bench bat, but roster spots for that type of role are awfully limited and he’s been unsuccessfully looking for a gig for months now. Part of the problem is that Thome reportedly wants a big-league contract rather than working his way back to the majors on a minor-league deal, but whatever the case there’s been essentially zero rumblings of him drawing interest.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.