Eric Thames was not retained by the Milwaukee Brewers. Now a free agent, Thames could solve two problems the Cincinnati Reds may want to address.
The Milwaukee Brewers declined their $7.5M option on Eric Thames yesterday. Thames is now a free agent and is able to sign with any team he chooses. Believe it or not, adding Thames to the Cincinnati Reds roster could solve two glaring issues for the team heading into 2020.
Picking up the $7.5M option for Thames was not an easy decision for the Brewers. After Jesus Aguilar fell on his face this past season, Thames was ready, willing and able to carry load for Milwaukee. The left-handed slugger put up big time power numbers for the Crew.
Adding power is definitely one area of weakness for the Reds. Though Eugenio Suárez finished second in the league with 49 homers, and Aristides Aquino made himself into a household name near the end of last season, there aren’t many other players on the Reds roster that instill fear in opposing pitchers. But Thames very presence in the batter’s box is enough to scare any pitcher.
Last season, Thames slashed .247/.346/.505 with 25 home runs and 61 RBIs. Those kind of numbers would be very welcome in the hitter’s paradise that is Great American Ball Park. Thames has a career-OPS of .912 when hitting at GABP. He’s also destroyed Reds pitching over the years to the tune of .259/.382/.601 with 16 home runs and 32 RBIs in 46 games.
Another point of interest regarding Thames is his versatility in the field. Though the majority of his starts came in first base in 2019 (89), Thames does have experience in the outfield. Thames started 6 games in right field last season, 24 there in 2018, and was the Brewers left fielder in 25 games in 2017.
With Joey Votto coming off back-to-back subpar seasons, Thames could be the perfect compliment to Votto once or twice a week. Thames has historically feasted on right-handed pitching, but is no match for lefties with a .197 batting average. Thames would obviously not be a replacement for Votto, but at 36-years-old, the veteran first baseman may need more days off.
Eric Thames has a career-OPS of .805. Adding a bat like that to the Cincinnati Reds lineup would definitely boost the team’s offensive profile. Thames’ asking price may be the biggest hangup for the Reds. While he’s unlikely to make a great deal this offseason, he won’t come cheap either. Adding Thames could be a costly move, but may be very beneficial.