Jim Thome is a Hall of Famer already. Barring some allegations of steroid use based on consequential, if any, evidence, Thome will walk into Hall of Fame no problem.* But the man wants to continue playing baseball. Unfortunately, teams are looking for ways to build for their futures, and the Phillies are about to become sellers at the trade deadline.
*Please see Jeff Bagwell as an example of this.
According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the Phillies have been in contact with some Americal League teams who may be interested in Thome as a designated hitter. Thome is getting limited playing time with the Phillies because of his relative inability to play defense. Placing him back with an American League team could be a win-win for both sides. The American League team could get a power-hitter who is able to contribute on a nightly basis, and the Phillies could get players to help them rebuild.
Thome is only making $1.25 million this year, so his contract is not cost prohibitive. However, his age may be. At 41 years old and hitting just .246, some teams may be scared off. However, Thome has an OBP of .343 and a SLG of .525. His OPS+ is 131. Those are impressive numbers for anyone, let alone a player of Thome’s age.
In his career, Thome has hit 609 home runs and has a triple-slash of .277/.403/.556. According to Baseball Reference’s Hall of Fame Monitor, Thome rates out at 156. An average Hall of Fame player rates at 100.
The Phillies, who are sitting at 36-42 and in dead last in the National League East, are in need of a younger core of players. As it stands now, the Phillies have the aging Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino as their core offensive players. They have the aging Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay as the core of their pitching staff. Utley just returned from the DL, but both Howard and Halladay are currently still injured.
Trading Thome would be the right move for the Phillies and for Thome. He is designed for the American League. Earlier in his career, he could at least hold his own in the field. That’s not the case anymore, and he is wasting his talent at the plate in the National League.
For more on the Phillies, be sure to check out That Ball’s Outta Here.