The recent news suggesting that the San Diego Padres are interested in Eric Thames is peculiar. Despite the need for a power hitter, the team shouldn’t pull the trigger on this one.
The San Diego Padres are starting to get active in the pursuit of several free agents. This week, it was reported that the Padres are interested in outfielder Eric Thames, one of the more fascinating names being thrown around.
The reasons for San Diego’s interest are understandable. Thames would provide power from the left side of the plate, and could possibly fill a void in the middle of the order. Still, general manager A.J. Preller should refrain from reaching out to the 30-year-old.
Thames spent the past three seasons in Korea after a rough two years in the MLB. His play overseas opened many eyes, and now it seems likely that the left-handed power hitter will return to the United States and sign a large contract with an MLB organization.
Along with the Padres, the Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays have expressed interest as well. It may make sense for the Athletics or Rays to make Thames an offer, but not the Padres.
Thames plays in the outfield, and San Diego has sufficient outfield depth. With Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot expected to take two of the three outfield spots, the final will either go to Jon Jay if re-signed, or will be shared by Alex Dickerson and Travis Jankowski. But there doesn’t appear to be room for Thames.
Of course, more depth never hurts, especially if it comes with power which can enhance run production. However, the Padres must contemplate the cost of this depth. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Thames is expected to sign a contract of about ten million dollars. If San Diego were to pay this much for an outfielder, they would at least want him to be an everyday player.
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The factor of uncertainty is also a major red flag when it comes to Thames. His .348 batting average and 111 home runs in three seasons in Korea is nice, but it’s also in Korea. In a way, counting on that sort of production being matched in the States is like comparing apples to oranges.
A more accurate analysis of what Thames may bring to the table is his numbers from when he was in the MLB. Playing for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Seattle Mariners, Thames hit a mediocre .250 in two seasons, driving in 62 runs. The most eye-popping stat however was his very high strikeout total of 175, almost one every three at bats.
The Padres definitely need a power hitter, but could do without one that strikes out on a third of his at bats. Of course, there’s no harm in looking into hitters who aren’t realistic signings, as long as Preller and the front office understands the state of the organization. Right now, it makes no sense to go after a risky veteran who costs a lot, especially while the team seeks to embrace their youth and develop a strong core for the future.