The Los Angeles Dodgers, looking to bolster their line-up for the postseason, made two late night trades on Monday night acquiring veteran right-handed pitcher Jon Garland from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for a player to be named later, and slugging veteran designated hitter/infielder Jim Thome and cash from the Chicago White Sox for minor league infielder Justin Fuller.
For players to be eligible for the postseason and added to the 40 man roster, players had to clear waivers by midnight ET on Monday.
Garland, 29, was 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA (80 ER in 167.2 IP) in 27 starts for the D-backs this season. He held opponents to a .286 batting average (188-for-657) with 52 walks and 83 strikeouts. Garland, who signed with the D-backs as a free agent on Jan. 29, is 114-100 with a 4.45 ERA (887 ER in 1793.0 IP) in 305 career games (282 starts) over parts of 10 seasons in the Majors for the Chicago White Sox (2000-2007), Los Angeles Angels (2008) and Arizona Diamondbacks (2009). In his 282 career starts, he is 112-99 with a 4.48 ERA (873 ER in 1754.0 IP).
Garland was notified of the trade while the Diamondbacks played the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In a surreal visual, Garland left the Diamondbacks dugout and appeared in the Dodgers dugout a few moments later. He had been scheduled in the rotation to pitch against the Dodgers on Thursday. Now, it is possible that Garland could pitch against the team he was traded from before the series at Dodger Stadium is completed.
Thome, who turned 39 on August 27, is hitting .252 (86-341) with 23 home runs and 74 RBIs in 106 games this season. He was acquired from Philadelphia prior to the 2006 season and hit 134 home runs with 369 RBIs in 518 games with the White Sox.
Thome ranks among baseball's all-time leaders in numerous offensive categories, including walks (10th, 1,619), home runs (12th, 564) and RBIs (30th, 1,564).
Among active players, Thome ranks third in home runs behind only Ken Griffey Jr. (625) and Alex Rodriguez (576). Also among active players, he ranks fifth in RBI, seventh with a .558 slugging percentage, and tied for sixth with a .405 on-base percentage. He leads active players with 1,619 walks and his 2,134 hits rank 13th. He also ranks 21st in baseball history in slugging percentage and 10th in walks.
Thome is one of only nine players in baseball history to accumulate 500 home runs, 1,500 walks, and 2,000 hits, joining Barry Bonds, Harmon Killebrew, Mickey Mantle, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, Mike Schmidt, Frank Thomas, and Ted Williams.
Thome is a career .278 hitter in 2,267 games with Cleveland (1991-2002), Philadelphia (2003-05), and the Chicago White Sox (2006-09). He is a veteran of seven postseasons, including two World Series appearances with Cleveland in 1995 and 1997. He has hit 17 career post-season homers, and has batted .221 (45-for-204) with 37 RBI in 59 playoff games.
In exchange for Thome, the White Sox get Fuller, 24, who is hitting .254 (45-177) with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 56 games this season with Class A Inland Empire of the California League. He is a career .242 hitter (188-777) in four Minor League seasons, all with the Dodgers.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Fuller was selected in the 11th round of the First-Year Player Draft in 2006 and was labeled by Baseball America as the Best Defensive Player among the Dodgers' Draft class.
The moves by the Dodgers are a clear sign that GM Ned Colletti is working to give manager Joe Torre more weapons for the postseason.
A big question with Jim Thome is where he will fit within the Dodgers and a National League organization. As reported by ESPN:
It's not immediately clear what role Thome will fill for the Dodgers. He has been exclusively a designated hitter the past two seasons and hasn't played first base -- the position he played earlier in his career -- since appearing in one game there in 2007. He hasn't played first base full time since 2004.
One place that Thome won't be playing is at first base. As reported by Jon Weisman via the LA Times "Dodger Thoughts":
Ned Colletti said on Prime Ticket's Dodgers Live postgame show that he and Jim Thome spoke at about 8:30 p.m. tonight, right before his trade to the Dodgers was officially completed, and Thome said that he is eager to contribute but that "playing first base is probably not going to be an option."
Nonetheless, Colletti was excited to get him.
"Jim Thome is a great hitter, a home-run hitter," he said. "He is in the twilight of his career, no question. He is also a great leader."
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