Thursday, August 25, 2011

Waiver circus has arrived for Kubel, Thome

National and local media reports swirled yesterday with the news that Jim Thome and Jason Kubel had been claimed on waivers by an unknown organization. Word slowly trickled out during the evening that the claiming team in both instances could be the Chicago White Sox. With a little more than a month left in the season, the White Sox are in third place in the AL Central and 6.5 games out of first place.

There are few things left to accomplish in the career of Jim Thome. He recently passed the 600 HR threshold and the rest of his statistics look Hall-of-Fame worthy. The one glaring item missing from his resume is a championship. He reached the ultimate stage twice in the early part of his career but the Indians failed to win the World Series in both of those appearances. In his contract, there is a full no-trade clause so any deal that the Twins make with another team would have to get the OK from Mr. Thome.

Kubel provides an interesting case for the Twins since he is a free agent at the end of the season. It would be best for the team to get something for a good left-handed bat in their line-up. There is a chance that he would leave in the offseason so anything in return is better than nothing. The team would have the same opportunity to resign Kubel in the offseason if the team wants to add him back to the squad.

With all of this being said, this sets up a flurry of things that could happen in the next two days (or nothing at all could happen, depending on how you look at it). Here is a look at just a few of the things that could happen before the weekend.

1. Both players traded to team that put in the claim: A lot of this depends on how much the teams are willing to give up in return. Thome most likely will not be worth much to another team. Kubel offers some versatility that could be attractive to a contending team in the stretch run. There could be a chance that the claiming team did not actual want these players and they were trying to block another team from acquiring their services.

2. Thome could veto a deal: If Chicago is really the team that claimed Thome, there is no guarantee that the White Sox would qualify for the playoffs. The White Sox and Indians have been falling behind the streaking Tigers and Thome could want a guaranteed playoff birth. There might be some bad blood in the water between Thome and the White Sox from the first time that Thome left the organization. As a veteran and future Hall-of-Famer, he has the control in this situation.

3. Place Thome on release waivers: This could be the next step for Thome if he vetoes the first claiming team's location in the standings. By doing this, the Twins would be allowing Thome to reject a move to any team that tried to claim him in the coming days. He would essentially become a free agent and that free agency would likely bring him to Philadelphia to reunite with former mentor and coach Charlie Manuel. Reports out this morning claim that owner Jim Pohlad might be against this option for Thome.

4. Pull both players back off of waivers: The Twins could pull both players back off of waivers and let them finish the year with the Twins. With the way the team has been playing, this situation seems the most unlikely out of the options discussed above.

5. A combination of the above options: I expect the strange and unusual with the way this season has gone for the Twins.

Out of the Twins pending free agents, I hoped that Kubel would be the one the team would push to keep in the offseason. A trade with only a couple weeks to go in the season still leaves the option on the table for the two sides to agree to a deal before next spring. The weird thing would be seeing Kubel in another uniform for the first time in his career.

I am glad that Thome got to 600 home runs with the Twins but I think he deserves a shot at another World Series ring. I would like to see him on the bench for the Phillies by the end of the weekend so he can push for a title in the National League. He has been fun to watch the last two seasons but his time has come to an end in Minnesota.

UPDATE: Reports have now come out that Thome was claimed by the Cleveland Indians and Kubel was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. It would be fitting for Thome to end his career in the same place that he started it in Cleveland. The White Sox are going to offer a lot for Kubel since he has the potential to be a Type A free agent in the offseason. The Thome deal could happen but the Kubel deal is doubtful at this point.

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