The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to a one-year deal with Jim Thome, according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. The deal is worth $1.25 million and is pending a physical, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports.
Thome played first base for the Phillies from 2003 through 2005, hitting 89 home runs in his first two seasons before an injury in ’05 allowed for the emergence of Ryan Howard, making Thome expendable. Since leaving Philly, Thome has played just 28 innings in the field, so his role with the club may be similar to that of a Matt Stairs, as a left-handed power bat off the bench.
Then again, with Howard’s torn Achilles tendon that will likely sideline him for the first few months of the regular season, the Phillies may use Thome’s services at first base.
Last year, Thome became the eighth player in major league history to hit 600 career home runs, doing so for the Minnesota Twins. He finished the year with the Cleveland Indians, the team for which he hit over 300 of his home runs.
Thome’s numbers from last year show he can still play. In 324 plate appearances, he posted a .256/.361/.477 statline with 15 home runs and 50 runs batted in, finishing with an adjusted OPS of 131. The year before, his 25 home runs helped him finish 18th in the AL MVP voting.
The signing of Thome likely means the Phillies will let Ross Gload walk. Gload, 35, battled a sports hernia all year, finishing with a .257 batting average, no home runs, and just eight RBIs in 116 plate appearances. Gload’s two-year deal expired after the season and he probably won’t be back, although if the Phillies choose to start Thome at first base early on, they will need a left-handed bat off the bench.
In 22 years in major league baseball, Thome has yet to earn a World Series ring. He has as good of a chance as any with the Phillies.