Present job opportunities for Thome clearly will be limited to the American League. A handful of teams have contacted Thome’s representative, Pat Rooney from SFX Baseball, and while Thome would not list any of those with interest, MLB.com has learned Tampa Bay stands as one of them.
Keep in mind that the Rays kick the tires on every player that could potentially fill a need for the team. And the Rays never move a player without knowing who will fill the hole. In this case, the Rays have likely contacted Thome as a potential replacement for Pat Burrell should he be traded.
However, Merkin dreams up a win-win situation in which the Rays could use both Burrell and Thome…
The Rays would make sense in that Thome could split DH time with Pat Burrell, who previously played with Thome in Philadelphia. Thome’s power stroke would serve as a great benefit for any team with playoff aspirations, such as Tampa Bay.
There is only one problem. The Rays would never do this.
Even if you ignore the cost of adding payroll to a DH position that will already cost the Rays $9 million in 2010, the Rays are unlikely to go into the season with two players that cannot play the field. The Rays are a team that values positional flexibility on their bench. And to say Burrell and Thome lack positional flexibility would be an understatement.
The Rays four bench spots will be filled by Willy Aybar, Gabe Kapler, a backup catcher (Dioner Navarro?) and a backup middle infielder (Sean Rodirguez or Reid Brignac). The only way Thome would fit into that situation is if either: a) Matt Joyce is the everyday right fielder and Kapler is let go; or b) the Rays choose to use a six-man bullpen. The former leaves the Rays without an outfielder on the bench and the latter would never work as long as Captain Hook Jr. is the manager.
Then again, the Rays are apparently prepared to enter the season with two catchers that can’t hit right-handed pitching.