The Brewers swap one first baseman for another. The team signed Eric Thames after a successful stint in Korea. What can you expect from him now that he’s back in the States?
In the mix of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and free agency rumors, the Milwaukee Brewers made two interesting moves. The first was to designated first baseman Chris Carter to assignment. The second was the effect of it. The team signed Eric Thames as a likely replacement. After three years away from American baseball, what can we expect from him in 2017?
Thames had a great 2010 season with Double-A New Hampshire, which led to his call up. He hit 27 home runs, 104 RBI and .288 in 130 games.
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He then spent just two seasons in the MLB. Thames played with the Toronto Blue Jays in his 2011 rookie season and split time between Toronto and the Seattle Mariners in 2012 before disappearing, until this offseason.
He was average at best in those two seasons. In 633 at bats, he hit 21 home runs, 62 RBI and .250. His final 40 games were bad. He hit just six home runs, 14 RBI and .220.
Thames traveled around between Baltimore and Seattle’s farm systems before going to Venezuela.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Thames reached his full potential. In the Korean Baseball Organization, with the NC Dinos, Thames posted three amazing seasons.
He hit 124 home runs, 379 RBI and .348/.450/.720 in 388 games. I’m not sure if it’s Thames finally putting it all together or the level of play in Korea, but I’m happy it has worked out for him. It’s this success that put him on the Brewers’ radar.
My colleague wrote about Carter’s recent history with the Brewers here. It’s surprising that they would cut someone who just had their best season. Carter played 160 games and hit 41 home runs, 94 RBI and .222. Yes, that average is horrible, but we don’t expect Carter to hit more than .240.
Thames is a little more than a month older than Carter, so the Brewers aren’t losing much there. The downside is that the big unknown as to who Thames currently is. We saw what he could do at the major league level, and it wasn’t good. The Brewers are hoping he could bring his Korean performance with him.
Heading into next season, Thames ranks inside my top 20. That speaks more to the depth of the first base position than his skill. However, he could finish inside the top 15 if he hits 35 home runs, but it’s all speculation until we see how he can hit in Spring Training.