Eric Thames was designated for assignment yesterday by the Seattle Mariners to make room for the returning Franklin Gutierrez from the 60-day DL. Thames has not seen action in the Major Leagues yet in 2013 but has hit well in the Pacific Coast League for the Tacoma Rainiers (.295/.382/.479, 7 HR, 3 SB). Is Thames worth the phone call to Seattle?
What they would get
Thames, 26, is a lefty who flashed much power in 2010 for Double-A New Hampshire, which has fairly neutral park factors. Thames hit very well across five years in the minors, compiling a .309/.388/.525 line. Thames has shown flashes in the Majors as well, with a strong rookie campaign in 2011 with Toronto, hitting 12 HR with a .262/.313/.456 line in 394 PA.
Thames’ numbers slipped last year (.232/.273/.399 with nine HR in 290 PA), particularly after a mid-season trade to Seattle for Steve Delabar. Thames struck out one less time in 2012 than 2011 but almost matched his K total in over 100 less PAs.
Thames took advantage of the positive park factors in Las Vegas in his time in Triple-A for the Blue Jays but, as a 26-year old this year, has done well in a home park that slightly suppresses runs in Tacoma.
What would it take to acquire Thames?
Thames was traded last year for a struggling young reliever who was being pigeon-holed as a Quad-A type pitcher. That pitcher? Delabar, who has a 1.75 ERA and is now a member of the suddenly scolding hot Toronto Blue Jays bullpen. The Phillies could likely get Thames for a player like a healthy Mike Stutes or someone better than B.J. Rosenberg.
Would he fit?
Thames has a pretty severe platoon split: 17 of Thames’ 21 homers have come against righties and has a 50+ point differential in each of the three triple-slash categories. Thames has an almost identical line against righties that Laynce Nix does: .261/.307/.446 for Thames v. .251/.296/.442 for Nix.
Thames does not turn 27 until November so there is potential for Thames to get better but for now, he’s pretty similar to Nix. In a very small sample size (138 PA), Thames hit just .210/.257/.377 against righties.
Thames has played around 2/5 of his career Major League games in right field and, according to his small UZR sample, is suited better for right field. Thames would be a better right fielder than say Darin Ruf but would be pretty comparable to Leandro Castro who is currently in right field for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
Thames is worth a look, as he likely has a bit more potential and room to grow if given regular playing time in MLB. However, best case, he is a lefty version of John Mayberry‘s 2011 season and even that is a long shot. The Phillies currently have a near-identical player on the roster in Nix that is not receiving any playing time in a platoon. Acquiring Thames would not be a great move unless they were committed to a full platoon in right field and the Phillies under Charlie Manuel lack the track record to believe they would start now.