Earlier this week three more names flew off the free agent list, Jim Thome, Ben Sheets, and Xavier Nady. While none of these guys will be the key for their teams run to the playoffs, they each are very intriguing signings. All three of them fill niches that each team needs, depth and trade chips. I am going to break down each of the deals and explain why it’s a good move.
The Jim Thome signing was a no brainer, a $1.5 million, one year deal with $750,000 in incentives based on plate appearances seems like a bargain to me. The Twins get a veteran leader in the clubhouse, Kubel can now play more outfield and Thome comes back to American League pitching that he knows so well. I doubt that he will see much more than 400 plate appearances (if that), but if he puts up numbers like he did last season for the White Sox, he gives the Twins a fairly lethal bat that they need right now. As for his place in the card world, I discussed this a couple of days ago and it can be read about here.
The usually savvy Billy Beane has made some poor choices recently when it comes to older free agents. Jason Giambi and for the most part Frank Thomas seemed like bad moves last year. However with Sheets, I think Beane did his homework. Sheets has already passed a physical and his workouts in Louisiana were so good that the A’s sent him an offer in 1 hour. Now don’t get me wrong $8 million for a guy that hasn’t pitched in a year and a half is a lot of money, but if there is anyone that can come back from the adversity that he went through it’s Sheets. Plus as an added bonus, if Sheets pitches well, the A’s now have trade bait to bring in more fresh talent. As for his hobby value, cards of his can be had for between $2 – $30, depending on what’s on the card. The card pictured below is one of my favorites and it recently sold for $17. I have always been a Sheets fan since he was in college, so for me this is a must have. For others though, I can understand why they wouldn’t want it.
Finally the Xavier Nady deal, 1 year $3.3 million to serve as a backup outfielder. This would have looked a lot better in 2009 after he hit 0.305/25/97 but still it offers the Cubs so depth coming off the bench. The real question is can he come back from his 2nd Tommy John surgery. I don’t know if he can, I am assuming he lost some bat speed and probably some power as well. Of course in the role that he is in, he won’t see more than 300 at bats anyway. Plus if he performs well, they can use him as trade bait at the trading deadline. His hobby value is very limited since for most of his career he has been a fourth outfielder. You shouldn’t have to pay more than $1 for his autograph, the one below can be had for that price and I would consider it one of his best cards.
Overall, none of these deals is likely to make a huge impact, but they all fit their new teams fairly well. My hope is that all three have stellar seasons, but we have to be realistic, if one has a great season I would be thrilled.