The ongoing lockout is a chance for teams to sign intriguing players at a possible bargain rate. Several teams have been able to land pieces for the bullpen or possible options for their bench on minor league deals, showing that there is plenty of talent available. That is the case with former Brewers slugger Eric Thames.
As the Oakland A’s are staring down a probable rebuilding process, it makes sense that they would want to add as much depth as possible. With that being the case, they have reportedly signed Thames to a minor league deal.
Oakland A’s make 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 solid rookie campaign where he hit 12 homers and 24 doubles while posting a 105 OPS+, he struggled in 2012, eventually being traded to the Mariners. That led to a rather nomadic stretch, where he was traded to the Orioles for Ty Kelly in 2013, then claimed off of waivers by the Astros. After being released by Houston four months later, Thames signed in the Korean Baseball Organization.
That decision proved 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. Over the course of his three seasons in the KBO, Thames produced an incredible .349/.451/.721 batting line in his 1638 plate appearances, hitting 124 homers and 102 doubles while stealing 71 bases.
His showing with the Dinos led to another chance stateside. He signed a three year deal with the Brewers, a move that paid immediate dividends. Thames crushed 31 homers while posting a 125 OPS+ in his first season in Milwaukee, showing that he was not just a product of the KBO. While 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 in Japan. His time in Nippon Professional Baseball ended after one game when he ruptured his Achilles in his debut with the Yomiuri Giants, ending his 2021 season.
But he does have a chance at playing time with Oakland. The designated hitter spot is wide open currently. Likewise, if the A’s do trade Matt Olson, they will have an opening at first base that he could step into. Thames is a perfect depth signing, especially if the expected fire sale does occur.
The Oakland A’s have signed Eric Thames to a minor league deal. He could end up playing a major role on the 2022 roster.