The hot stove was set ablaze by Stearns and company last night. The Brewers designated Chris Carter for assignment and signed Eric Thames.
First lets take a look at Chris Carter. At this point, Carter is what he is. Basically a replacement level first basemen. Carter provides power and walks at the expense of a high strike out rate, low batting average, and below average defense. Carter slashed .222/.321/.499 in 160 games for the Brewers last year. He hit a 41 home runs while walking at a solid 11.8% clip. He also struck out 206 times in 644 plate appearances (32%). Carter does not bring much on the defensive side of the ball. He is below average to bad in just about every defensive metric.
It came as somewhat of a surprise that he was non-tendered last night. Carter was probably due to make roughly 8-10 million dollars in 2017. It should be noted that the Brewers still have 10 days to trade him, so it is possible they can get some small return. If there is no market for a trade, he will be given his outright release. Regardless of the outcome, Carter will be hitting dingers and striking out for a different team next year. This move left the brewers with a hole at first base. They did not waste much time to fill it.
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The Brewers filled the first base vacancy by signing Eric Thames to a 3 year 16 million dollar deal with a club option. Thames has spent the last three years tearing up the Korean Baseball Organization. He put up a video game like slash line of .348/.450/.720 during that time. Thames has had an interesting journey in his baseball career. Also based on this mornings press conference, Thames has quite a fine beard.
To get an idea of his full story check out Blake Murphy’s excellent article from vice sports.
For a more in-depth statistical look at Thames, Josh Sheperdson at Fangraphs has you covered.
So how will these numbers translate to the Major Leagues? It is very hard to say. The KBO is generally seen as similar to AAA competition. One must assume the gaudy offensive numbers will come back to earth with a higher level of competition. However, even if he can subtract 100 points from his batting average and on base percentage, and subtract 200 points from his slugging. You would still get a productive .248/.350/.520 line for a very reasonable price of slightly over 5 million a year. This is probably too high of an expectation, but it does show the reason the Brewers were willing to take this gamble. Only time will tell if the gamble pays off.