Dodgers acquire Jim Thome, John Garland
LOS ANGELES – It’ll be old home week when Jim Thome joins Manny Ramirez on the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Their reunion was set up when the Dodgers acquired the slugging first baseman from the Chicago White Sox on Monday night. Also joining the Dodgers’ lineup is right-hander Jon Garland, who came over from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The deals were announced in the top of the eighth inning of the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game, with both trades completed before the midnight EDT deadline required for postseason eligibility.
Ramirez was all smiles about the deal for Thome after the Dodgers lost 5-3 to Arizona in 10 innings. The two men played together in Cleveland for eight seasons from 1993-2000, including the 1997 World Series. They have a combined 1,106 homers. The Dodgers entered Monday ranked 12th in the NL with 114 homers.
“He’s one of the best guys I ever played with in my entire career,” Ramirez said. “He’s a great guy in the clubhouse. I’m happy to see him. He’s one of the best hitters, too. I’m just glad he’s on my team.”
The 39-year-old Thome is hitting .252 with 23 home runs and 74 RBI in 106 games this season. He has 564 career home runs.
The five-time All-Star is owed $2,415,301 from his $13 million salary, and is eligible to become a free agent after the World Series.
The White Sox get minor league infielder Justin Fuller and will send cash to the Dodgers. It was not immediately known how much Chicago was sending to the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks will receive a player to be named for Garland.
Center fielder Matt Kemp said he found out about the deals when the young sons of CNN’s Larry King shouted the news into the Dodgers’ dugout.
“They give us a big boost,” he said. “We’ll take anything they can help us to win games. It lets us know they want to win and they’re doing whatever it takes. I’m excited to have them.”
Thome, who has not played first base since playing one game in 2007, goes from a third-place team trailing Detroit and Minnesota in the AL Central Division to the first-place Dodgers, who lead Colorado by 5 1/2 games in the NL West.
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti envisions Thome playing a role similar to the one Matt Stairs filled for the World Series champion Phillies last year – he hit a key home run against the Dodgers in the NLCS. James Loney is the Dodgers’ regular first baseman.
“We’re not bringing him over here to play first base,” Colletti said. “We’re bringing him here to come off the bench and be a great influence in the clubhouse. He’s one of the true great guys in the game.
“In fact, the night before the deadline he called me. … He just said: ‘I just want to be honest with you. I’d love to come. I want to help you guys any way I can. But playing first base is not something I’m going to be able to do – maybe in an emergency situation, perhaps.”‘
Garland is 8-11 with a 4.29 ERA. He gave up five hits and a walk over seven sharp innings in a 9-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Saturday.
When reached by The Associated Press, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams refused to comment.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre said he planned to talk to Garland about starting on Thursday in place of knuckleballer Charlie Haeger.
“Jon Garland is going to get the ball every five days and if we have six starters, so be it,” Torre said. “It has made us stronger. We have some threat off the bench now, and with Garland, we have someone who knows how to pitch.”
Garland made one start in the 2005 World Series for the White Sox en route to the championship. He pitched a complete game to earn the win in his one start in the ALCS.
“He’s somebody we had interest in this past winter and who we’ve watched for a while and have seen in our division. He’s pitched in the postseason, he’s been on a team that’s won the World Series,” Colletti said. “When you get to the month of August and you start looking for additional help and can add a veteran starter who can give you innings and is a winning-type player, you go for it.”
Garland is due $1,161,202 from his $6.25 million salary. His contract includes a $10 million mutual option. He gets a $2.5 million buyout if the team declines and $1 million if he declines. Because he was traded, the Dodgers cannot offer him salary arbitration if he is a Type A free agent.
Garland knew something was up when he began receiving text messages during the game. He went into the visitors’ clubhouse, showered, packed up and then made what he called a “definitely weird” walk to the Dodgers’ side.
“I didn’t want it so late,” he said, explaining his initial resistance to the trade. “This late in the season coming to a team that’s been going strong, they might feel they don’t need anybody. They’ve done all the work. I don’t want to feel like I’m sliding in easy. Hopefully they accept me well.”
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