As Ryan Howard gets closer, a report from ESPN's Jayson Stark hints the Phils are seeking a soft American League landing for Jim Thome.
Stark reported Tuesday the Phils are floating Gentleman Jim to AL clubs in need of a designated hitter, but that Thome's reported preferences, the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians, are all set at the position. MLBTradeRumors.com lists Baltimore as the contending club with the biggest need at DH, with the Rangers as a darkhorse possibility. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told Stark that "if there's a situation out there that benefits both Jim and the Phillies, we'll try to put something together."
Beerleaguer: There are a couple of driving forces pushing the Phils to move quickly on Thome. The interleague "audition" verified his value. The Phils and Thome both know it will be difficult keep his bat fresh with one at bat every other day. Fielding is out. But now there's another force at work. How do the Phillies make room for Howard once he's ready?
Unfortunately, the answer appears to be to jettison a future Hall of Famer who was probably the best, true clean-up hitter this team has had all season. Right now, the Phils are hoping to get value back, but that will only get harder with every passing day. Contenders are also reluctant to trade ready help, for example, a capable middle reliever straight-up for Thome, who is hardly a guarantee to stay healthy through October. Prospects are more likely. Thome and Howard cannot coexist as an ex-first-baseman who can't take the field and one who will be eased back slowly.
From a gentlemen's standpoint, the Phils also recognize their reduced probability of a World Series and will do their part to help Thome reach that objective elsewhere.