Jim Thome Trade: Impact on Free Agency?

Josh LevittSenior Analyst ISeptember 2, 2009

SEATTLE - AUGUST 12:  Jim Thome #25 of the Chicago White Sox bats during the game against the Seattle Mariners on August 12, 2009 at Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

As most of us know by now, Jim Thome was dealt from the painfully mediocre White Sox to the NL West leading Dodgers two days ago. What I'm most interested in is not how this trade impacts the Dodgers, but instead, how this deal possibly impacts Garland's value on the open market. Let's take a look:

"No way in hell."..."That's a freakin' lie..."

Yes, those are just a few of the possible responses you would have gotten from me if you told me on Sunday that Jim Thome was going to be traded to the National League.

I mean, the idea seemed to be stupid on the surface. Thome hasn't played first base consistently since the 2005 season and can't be counted on to be anything more than a DH these days. Sure Thome can still tear the cover off the ball, but it didn't seem logical to move him to the National League.

But not in the eyes of the Dodgers or Ned Colleti. The Dodgers acquired Thome, who is still one of the most feared power hitters in the American League, with no intention of giving him time at first base—or regular playing time for that matter.

That's because the great Jim Thome was going to be reduced to simply pinch hitting where the Dodgers could sit back and hope that one of the best power hitters of the past decade morphs into the second coming of Matt Stairs circa 2008.

So what does Thome's trade to LA mean to his wallet? In my view, probably not much. Even though most players/agents would be pissed to lose a month of consistent playing time when they're about to become a free agent, I imagine that Thome will still be fine on the open market.

His numbers speak volumes for Thome's consistency and ability. He's hit at least 20 homers in every season besides 2005 since 1994, and he's driven in at least 90 runs in nine of the past 10 seasons (not including 2008)

When you have a guy with the track record of Jim Thome, I really doubt that a month or two of pinch hitting is going to change anyone's opinion of him on the open market.

At this stage in the game, Thome is what he is. Thome has to play in the American League where he can be a productive DH that hits for power, gets on base, and drives in runs.

Unless Thome completely tanks during his VERY LIMITED time (and VERY LIMITED at bats) with the Dodgers, I still see Thome potentially earning between $7-$8 million next season as someone's primary DH.