Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has already expressed a desire to have more power of the bench, which while being a legitimate need seems like a small point for a team that is coming off two 90-plus loss seasons. But if general manager Terry Ryan heeds Gardenhire’s call for a power hitter off the bench, could the Twins reunite with a familiar face?
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.com reported last week that Jim Thome is working out in Arizona in the hopes of continuing his career, and La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has reported the Twins had some interest in him around a month ago. Rosenthal’s report suggests Thome is hesitant to sign a minor league deal, but at age 42 that severely limits the number of teams that would show even a passing interest in signing him.
Thome spent the 2012 season with the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles, hitting .252 with eight home runs and 25 RBI over 186 plate appearances. He of course played for the Twins in 2010 and 2011, and put together an excellent season in 2010 (.283, 25 home runs and 59 RBI over 340 plate appearances). For his career Thome is seventh on the all-time home run list with 612, putting him 18 round-trippers shy of sixth-place Ken Griffey Jr.
Thome surely genuinely wants to continue playing, even if it has to be in the kind of specialized role he has served in over the last few years. The chance to climb the all-time home run list is obviously there if someone signs him, but I don’t think that is the driving force for his desire to keep playing.
Thome is just not a good fit for the Twins, with the combination of Ryan Doumit, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and even Josh Willingham in the mix for at-bats at designated hitter at least occasionally. Not that Thome would take many at-bats away from that group, but it would be more difficult for Gardenhire to manage his bench due to his lack of versatility. If Thome did not hit a home run a pinch-runner would be required, to say nothing of his lack of usability defensively. Add in his advanced age, and Thome does not fit with the forward-looking plan that Ryan has implemented this winter.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.