The ongoing lockdown is a chance for teams to sign intriguing players at a bargain price. Several teams have been able to land bullpen plays or possible options for their bench on minor league deals, which shows there’s plenty of talent available. This is the case of the former slugger of the Brewers Eric Thames.
As the Oakland A’s consider a likely rebuilding process, it makes sense that they would want to add as much depth as possible. That being the case, they would have signed Thames to a minor league contract.
Oakland Made an intriguing signing with Eric Thames
Thames was originally selected in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Blue Jays, making his major league debut in 2011. After a strong rookie campaign where he hit 12 home runs and 24 doubles while posting a 105 OPS +, he struggled in 2012, eventually being traded to the Mariners. This led to a rather nomadic stretch, where he was traded to the Orioles for Ty Kelly in 2013, then claimed waivers by the Astros. After being released by Houston four months later, Thames signed with the Korean Baseball Organization.
This move turned out to be the best move of his baseball career. Thames was a superstar for the NC Dinos, winning the MVP award in 2015 as he posted a 40-40 season. In his three seasons in the KBO, Thames produced an incredible .349/.451/.721 batting line in his 1,638 plate appearances, hitting 124 home runs and 102 doubles while stealing 71 bases.
His performance with the Dinos led to another chance in the United States. He signed a three-year contract with the Brewers, a move that paid immediate dividends. Thames smashed 31 home runs while posting a 125 OPS+ in his freshman season in Milwaukee, showing he wasn’t just a KBO product. Although he did not match that production in the other two years, he was still an above average bat and a solid power threat.
Thames is now looking to prove himself once again. He had a disappointing 2020 season with the Nationals before signing for Japan. His time at Nippon Professional Baseball ended after one game when he ruptured his Achilles on his debut for the Yomiuri Giants, ending his 2021 season.
But he has a chance to play with Oakland. The designated hitter spot is currently wide open. Similarly, if the A’s are trading Matt Olson, they will have an opening at first base that he can enter. Thames is a perfect depth signing, especially if the expected fire sell occurs.
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The Oakland A’s have signed Eric Thames to a minor league contract. He could end up playing a major role on the 2022 roster.