Following the forced retirement of Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees were in need of a designated hitter. So the club approached a former big leaguer looking to make his return to the States from the Korean Baseball Organization.
Man oh man, would Eric Thames have looked great in Yankees pinstripes! For three seasons in the KBO, Thames put up some absolutely insane numbers.
In 1,638 at-bats, the now 30-year-old slugger averaged a .349/.448/.654 slash line with 124 total home runs and 382 RBI. In 2015, Thames even swiped 40-out-of-48 bags. Basically, for three seasons, he was Korea’s version of Mike Trout.
With all intentions of coming back to the States — proving that his newly developed game was no fluke, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman reached out to Thames’ representatives about the possibility of inking him to a deal.
But as Cashman told the New York Post, money talked and BS walked.
"“We talked to his agent, but the financial considerations weren’t a match,’’ general manager Brian Cashman said of the 30-year-old Thames, a lefty swinging first baseman/outfielder.More from Yankees News3 cost-effective free agents who can fill out Yankees roster after Aaron Judge dealYankees sign Carlos Rodón after Scott Boras staredown to fill out special 2023 rotationRed Sox DFAing Derek Jeter-inspired piece of Mookie Betts trade gives Yankees fans joyYankees sign 2021 breakout reliever after awful 2022, elbow surgeryGary Sánchez’s agent blames Yankees for 2022 struggles in dark twist"
Thames, who eventually accepted a 3-year/$16M deal from the Brewers, to be the heir apparent to 2016 NL home run leader Chris Carter, has been an absolute steal.
Through 14 games, Thames is leading the world with eight home runs and 14 RBI. Oh yeah, he’s also batting .415!
Holliday, who has been dealing with a stiff back as of late, is off to a mediocre start — .227 with two home runs and eight RBI in 13 games, though, he has flashed some nice power. Carter, on the other hand, has been a waste of $3.5M, batting .158 with no home runs and three RBI.
Cashman must have felt Thames’ game wouldn’t translate against the best pitchers in the world. Otherwise, why not sign a guy who is younger — can play both the outfield and first base much better than Holliday or Carter — and would have only cost $2.5M more than the two guys he did eventually sign to replace A-Rod.
At times, this is what annoys me about the management of the Yankees. The people who call the shots would rather take their chances with guys who are on the downside of their careers because they “might” recapture some of their past glory, rather than invest in the excitement of the unknown.
The part that really stings about Thames’ success, is that the Yankees originally drafted him in the 39th round of the 2007 draft out of Pepperdine University. Only a sophomore at the time, Thames ultimately decided to stay in school.
Obviously, forecasting the success of a player who has been away from MLB for four years isn’t a simple thing to do, but it’s a gamble that would have paid off big-time for the Yankees. Adding a left-handed power bat to the middle of their current lineup would have paid off in spades.
Alas, the Yanks lost their chance at Thames, not once, but twice. For the 9-8 Brewers, staying alive in a middling NL Central has become that much more of a reality with Thames’ hot as Hades stick batting in front of Ryan Braun.