Frank Thomas signs with the A’s

DMZ · January 25, 2006 at 11:42 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

1y, $500k.

So here’s why this is totally awesome:
– Frank Thomas is a great bet to pound the ball when he’s in the lineup. He may not hit .250, but he’ll draw a ton of walks and hit for good power

Here’s why this kinda sucks:
– He’s not going to be in the lineup that often. He’s old, he seems to be increasingly fragile. He’s barely played in 100 games over two seasons
– So you have to be prepared to have someone else play instead, and expect they’re going to get at least 40 games and maybe all season
– Pasting the ball if you can’t manage to hobble to second turns him into a single/walk/home run/out machine

For $500k? That’s not a bad deal at all, especially for a team like the A’s that stock their AAA team with interesting players who can step in to help the roster flex around injuries. I mean heck, if he tears up his knee in spring training and spends all year on the DL, they’re not out that much money at all.

It’s a nice little gamble.


28 Responses to “Frank Thomas signs with the A’s”

  1. Jon Wells on January 26th, 2006 12:02 am

    and unfortunately the A’s play in the same division as the Mariners…sure there’s no guarantee that he’ll stay healthy for even half a season, but if can, he’ll hit 30+ HR’s and drive in over 100 runs for about $3 million dollars. And even though he didn’t hit for average last year, he’s still an OBP machine. If the M’s weren’t so focused on acquiring that “lefty sock” they might have considered the right-handed Thomas at 1/8 of the guaranteed cost of Carl Everett.

    On a similar note, Mike Piazza is still out there. With just 2 1/2 weeks before the start of spring training (he is rumored to be close to signing with an AL team soon), he’s probably going to have to sign the same kind of deal Thomas got. For that kind of dough, I’d sign Piazza, let him DH against left-handed pitching, some righties and let him catch 40-50 games. Even though he’s had some issues throwing out runners the last couple of seasons, he’s got to be a better backup option than Rene Rivera or Corky Miller. Add in that he’d be a great insurance policy in the event Johjima struggles or gets hurt and it makes too much sense — has anyone thought where the M’s would be catching-wise if Johjima were to suffer a serious injury early in the year?

    Why is it that teams like the A’s always seem to be getting the bargains like Thomas (even though they have a perfectly capable 1B/DH type in Dan Johnson), while Seattle is busy signing the Scott Spiezio’s of the World to three year deals???!!!

  2. Harden Slade on January 26th, 2006 1:57 am

    someone tell me…why can’t the m’s come up with this?

  3. Paul Covert on January 26th, 2006 2:13 am

    Actually, at about this time last year, the M’s signed the defensive version of Frank Thomas (all-world on one side of the offense/defense ledger, worthless on the other, high injury risk), and reaction here at USSM was mostly positive. (Still, though, Oakland is paying less to take the risk on Thomas than we did with Pokey.)

    Incidentally, in response to Jon’s raising the “division rival” issue: I guess I have a different perspective on the matter. As a fan, that matters very little to me (if I worked in the front office I might think differently). My reasoning is that what I want is for Seattle to put together a really *good* team, not just one that sneaks into the playoffs from a mediocre division; and indeed, if anything, playing in a stronger division might decrease the likelihood of ownership tolerating mediocrity. (But of course this is just a value judgment, not a logical conclusion; fans can certainly hold different preferences on this point.)

  4. zzyzx on January 26th, 2006 6:40 am

    I want the M’s to win a World Series, regardless of the absolute quality of their team. If the Hawks win the Superbowl, who will really care about the quality of the NFC West after all? OTOH 2001 was pretty damn fun, wasn’t it?

  5. Badperson on January 26th, 2006 6:46 am

    Yikes! I was going to say this was no big deal, but then I saw that Thomas posted a 905 OPS last year, and a 997 the year before that. I didn’t realize he was still hitting that well.

  6. MoreCowbell on January 26th, 2006 6:46 am

    This is a good move for the A’s. Really…what is $500K in today’s market? If Frank can hit 15HR and 35+ RBI’s I would call this a good move, and I dont think these numbers are unreachable for him.

    I am just disappointed that the A’s made this move and not some other team. I have a bad feeling that Thomas will hit the M’s pitching hard, and we will be having a discussion mid-season about why the M’s didnt sign him for $500k. Haha

  7. Badperson on January 26th, 2006 7:28 am

    It would have been nice to sign him instead of Everett. Lawton provides everything Everett does, and a good pinch hitter/DH would have been sweet, even if he was hurt alot.

  8. rlharr on January 26th, 2006 8:30 am

    Question of the day:
    Who of the following hits the most homers at Safeco Field this year?
    Carl “left-hand sock” Everett
    Frank “big I’m hurt” Thomas
    Milton “play me in center” Bradley

    Sad that it may not be Everett.

  9. Mat on January 26th, 2006 9:28 am

    “someone tell me…why can’t the m’s come up with this?”

    Why would Thomas want to sign that contract with the M’s when he can do it with the A’s? First off, I’d imagine a big reason for him signing a one-year incentive-laden contract is for him to put up big numbers next year so he can get another 2-3 year contract in 2007. If he’s in Safeco, it’s going to be tougher for him to put up those big numbers. The A’s are also perennial contenders, so if he’s going to wind up somewhere for just a year, it might as well be with someone who has a good chance at being competitive. Also, and this might not be a big reason, but the A’s have long valued the things Frank brings to the table (OBP, power) without really putting a lot of value on the things he doesn’t do well (run really fast). So, Frank’s moved to an organization that will likely value him more than your average team. Just because the A’s got a good deal here doesn’t mean the M’s could have.

  10. DMZ on January 26th, 2006 9:33 am

    Thomas is really old — he’s going to have a really hard time getting a big 2-3 year contract even if he puts up big numbers. It’s probably more likely that he wants to play for a contender if he can, and the A’s were interested and, as you note, a good fit.

  11. Evan on January 26th, 2006 9:35 am

    Frank is one of those guys who hits the ball so hard that Safeco isn’t really going to impact his HR totals. His AVG, sure, but he’s going to have a crappy one of those, anyway.

    You think Safeco cost Sexson many HRs?

  12. Adam S on January 26th, 2006 9:52 am

    Ouch! We knew Carl Everett for $4M was bad and, personality issues aside, at the time speculated that you could get the same output much cheaper. And now we have proof.

    Everett at $4M or a Lawton/Thomas platoon at $1M plus incentives? Anybody have to think more than 10 seconds on that one?!?

    Last rumor on Piazza has the Padres being one of the front runners. I like the idea of a veteran backup catcher to help Johjima out, though the M’s would likely have to carry a 3rd catcher if they want to use Piazza to PH or DH and I think we’re out of roster space.

  13. MoreCowbell on January 26th, 2006 10:05 am

    As with Piazza, I have also read that Toronto has interest with the expectation that he would catch no more than 60-70 games and would platoon at 1st and DH.

    We all know Frank Thomas is old..but if history predicts the future…there will be teams desparate and willing to give this guy a 2-year deal after this year.

  14. ChrisK on January 26th, 2006 10:07 am

    Fortunately for us, Everett was the reason the White Sox won the World Series. After all, Everett replaced Thomas and they won, so it’s clear that Carl is the better player.

    Now watch my explanation get scooped in the next Mariner Mailbag 🙁

  15. msb on January 26th, 2006 10:32 am

    it might be better to have a back-up catcher who wasn’t also learning the pitching staff and league as the starting catcher will be….

  16. Evan on January 26th, 2006 10:42 am

    I’d love to see Toronto get Piazza. That would definitely force Hinske to the bench (as he’d be the fourth 1B/DH guy after Hillenbrand, Overbay and Piazza).

  17. msb on January 26th, 2006 10:44 am

    oh, and speaking of benches, Kirby Arnold chats with Dobby the Bench Elf this morning.

  18. sparky on January 26th, 2006 10:52 am

    This signing is pretty exciting if for no other reason than people seem to forget just how good Frank Thomas was, and, by finding a team that values him, it will increase his odds of getting to 500 homeruns. Maybe if he hits that milestone he’ll get the appreciation he deserves. He’s one of those hitters, like Manny and Bonds that is just fun to watch because of how much power they pack and how well-trained their batting eye is.

  19. Typical Idiot Fan on January 26th, 2006 11:47 am

    Let the A’s have him. I don’t care.

    I merely wanted to comment on this:

    “That’s not a bad deal at all, especially for a team like the A’s that stock their AAA team with interesting players who can step in to help the roster flex around injuries.”

    Who? Most of the A’s talents have been promoted to the Majors already. There’s a lot of discussion amongst the John Sickels groupies that the A’s farm system is approaching depleted at the advanced levels, much like the Mariners and their recent promotion craze.

    I think Beane knows this too. Thomas is a stop gap until some of those high A ballers develop more and some of those AA ballers prove they can actually play.

  20. adamt on January 26th, 2006 11:50 am

    From the Mariners big boys:

    “Unfortunately, we were unable to offer a contract to Frank Thomas (aka, Frank the Tank, Big Hurt) because of our expenditures in regards to locking Willie Bloomquist into a two year deal.”

  21. eponymous coward on January 26th, 2006 12:03 pm

    Let’s see: list A is Everett, Moyer, Bloomquist, Washburn, Meche.

    List B is Millwood, Loaiza, Johnson, Thomas, and D’Angelo Jiminez.

    Both lists come in at approximately the same cost (list B might be several million more if Thomas stays healthy), and both lists come with Matt Lawton and Kenji Johjima.

    Which one do YOU pick?


  22. Churchill on January 26th, 2006 12:07 pm

    All Thomas has to do to get 1.4 million more, making it 1.9 total, is stayy off the DL with a left foot injury.

    He can hurt his back, his ear, his right foot, either knee, either shoulder, whatever, and still get the 1.4 mil.

    It’s basically a 2 million deal for Oakland.

    If he performs at all, even for the second half of the season, it’s a great signing and it’s a good risk either way.

    But we shouldn’t be tossing out 500k as if they can get anywhere near Thomas’ capable ceiling production for anything less than 2 million.

    For 500k, they get a waste of time – and 500k.

  23. Typical Idiot Fan on January 26th, 2006 3:56 pm

    “Both lists come in at approximately the same cost (list B might be several million more if Thomas stays healthy), and both lists come with Matt Lawton and Kenji Johjima.

    Why? Because it doesn’t support your list claim otherwise?

  24. eponymous coward on January 26th, 2006 4:37 pm

    They all represent possible or actual FA signings?

    Look, if you think the M’s offseason signings were the best we could reasonably expect, more power to you. I disagree… and Meche+Moyer+Everett+Washburn is pretty close to Millwood+Loaiza+Johnson, salarywise, for 2006. The team decided it was more important to have “clubhouse grit”, return a popular veteran, not to give up on their 1996 draft pick, and cut corners on the premiere FA signing than radically reconstruct a roster that’s sucked the last two years. It might even work out better this way- I was no fan of what the Angels did in 2002 or the Marlins did in 2003 and they have nice shiny hardware to prove me wrong.

  25. Mr. Egaas on January 26th, 2006 5:06 pm

    Great signing by Beane. Adds another tier of depth to an already deep team for not that much money. Gives them the option to trade Payton now, althought I’m sure they stay with what they have considering Thomas and Bradley have been fragile over the past few years.

    Oakland is my pick in the AL.

  26. Typical Idiot Fan on January 26th, 2006 5:37 pm

    “They all represent possible or actual FA signings?”

    You can’t subtract Jojima and Lawton and add them to whatever batch of signings you want. You can only include them in our signings because that’s what WE did. If Beane had even made an attempt to get either of those players, then you’d have a good reason to compare / contrast the signings.

    By doing that you basically ignored two signings from the Mariners list because it looked “better” towards your arguement. It’s either all or none, not mix and match. I know the rationale is that these were things “available” to us during the offseason. But by making that arguement you could basically go and take whatever signings from whatever teams and bitch that Bavasi isn’t doing his job.

    Was this the “best” we could do? Probably not. Was that the best Beane could do? Probably not. Did anybody have a perfect offseason? No.

  27. eponymous coward on January 26th, 2006 7:08 pm

    “Was this the “best” we could do? Probably not.”

    Uh, we WANTED to sign those guys that we did. Way to miss the point.

  28. Nathan on January 27th, 2006 11:02 pm

    “Who? Most of the A’s talents have been promoted to the Majors already. There’s a lot of discussion amongst the John Sickels groupies that the A’s farm system is approaching depleted at the advanced levels, much like the Mariners and their recent promotion craze.

    I think Beane knows this too. Thomas is a stop gap until some of those high A ballers develop more and some of those AA ballers prove they can actually play.”


    Granted there aren’t a ton of good prospects at or near the AAA level, but how many do they need? Take a look at their roster and see how many players they have under contract or arb/pre-arb rights to for at least 2007:

    Jason Kendall (through 2007)
    Milton Bradley (through 2007)
    Joe Kennedy (through 2007)
    Bobby Kielty (through 2007)
    Mark Ellis (through 2008)
    Mark Kotsay (through 2008)
    Adam Melhuse (through 2008)
    Kiko Calero (through 2009)
    Marco Scutaro (through 2009)
    Justin Duchscherer (through 2009)
    Rich Harden (through 2009)
    Esteban Loaiza (through 2009)
    Bobby Crosby (through 2009)
    Kirk Saarloos (through 2009)
    Antonio Perez (through 2009)
    Dan Haren (through 2010)
    Joe Blanton (through 2010)
    Nick Swisher (through 2010)
    Dan Johnson (through 2010)
    Huston Street (through 2010)
    Eric Chavez (through 2011)

    Ok, let’s take a look at that. 21 of the 25 players I would expect to be on the opening day roster for Oakland will be back in 2007 barring injury, trade or forgetting how to play and getting cut. The 4 free agents will be Zito, Jay Payton, Jay Witasick and Frank Thomas. Minus those, the entire team will be back.

    After the 2008 season (3 offseasons from now) 17 of the current 25 players can leave if they want to. Except for Kendall, the entire infield of OD 2006 will be back in 2008. Except for Zito, the entire rotation (including bullpen 6th starter Kirk Saarloos) will be back.

    So, basically, the depleted farm system has 3 years to produce a catcher (Powell, Suzuki), three outfielders, a DH, a starter and two bullpen arms, or three bullpen arms and no starters if Saarloos moves into the rotation. And any free agents that are signed (and money will be there, after the departures of Zito, Payton, Kennedy, Witasick, Kendall, Bradley, Kennedy and Kielty) will mean one fewer player the farm system will need to produce.

    The A’s farm system will need years to restock, but it will have those years. The farm system is ‘depleted’ at high levels because ALL THOSE PLAYERS are now at the major league level, playing for Oakland. Which is kind of the point of a farm system, isn’t it?

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