After the Athletics finally tested the strength of Frank Thomas's foot to a point where they were satisfied with the results, they signed him to a one-year, $500,000 contract laden with incentives. The terms of the deal are as follows:
- One-year, $500,000
- $1.4 million in roster bonuses if on the active Major League roster or on the Disabled List with an injury unrelated to Thomas's left foot problem.
- $1.2 million in incentives for plate appearances
I love this contract from the A's perspective, because it absolutely looks like a pay-for-play deal. And unlike some PA incentive deals (think Rafael Palmeiro's playing time option from 2004), if Thomas is healthy, he will be producing, and the A's will certainly want his bat in the lineup. Let's take a look at his past three seasons:
That 2003 season is certainly something the Athletics are hoping to get out of Thomas, but I'm not so sure his foot can handle that many plate appearances. We will see of course, but I think Thomas might continue his Rob Deer impression in 2006. A .219/.315/.590 line is actually excellent; in fact, it is 22% better than the league average according to mOPS+. EqA also agrees, as Thomas hit his way into a .286 EqA, where league average is .260. Let's take a look at the Athletic's lineup with 2005's EqA's to see where Thomas would rank:
- Milton Bradley .290 EqA
- Mark Ellis .290 EqA
- Bobby Crosby .272 EqA
- Eric Chavez .270 EqA
- Frank Thomas .286 EqA
- Dan Johnson .276 EqA
- Nick Swisher .259 EqA
- Mark Kotsay .254 EqA
- Jason Kendall .240 EqA
2003: 15.1% K/PA, 7.7% BB/PA
2005: 10.5% K/PA, 9.1% BB/PA
There might be something to his new and improved numbers. Will it remain a part of his skill set in 2006? That I cannot tell you. PrOPS, a system developed by J.C. Bradbury, author of the weblog Sabernomics, says that Ellis was very lucky in 2005. You can retract my pessimism caused by that tidbit of info somewhat due to this new piece of information, but I still expect some regression in 2006. With his defense, a line of .280/.350/.415 or so is valuable
Considering Thomas's foot was healthy enough to sustain whatever stress testing was done to it, I think the A's can look forward to a productive season from him. Of course anything could happen, but if Thomas stays healthy I really do not see the Angels catching them, barring injury to other players of course. Thomas has a line of .255/.400/.571 with an AB/HR of 11.50 over the course of 2004-2005; what a boost to an offense in need of one if he can stick around for 500 plate appearances. Now it will be interesting to see which one of the extra outfielders is moved, and for what.
Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts and David Pinto's Day by Day Database essentially for being two of the most useful tools on the entire web.