The Blue Jays and slugger DH Frank Thomas have parted ways, a decision that came one day after Thomas balked at a reduced role with the Jays.
(“Hold me, Barry.” “Hold me, Frank.”)
Thomas was released Sunday by the Blue Jays, just a year after hitting 26 home runs and knocking in 95 runs for Toronto. The big sticking point was a plate appearances clause that would have triggered a $10 million option next season. He’s hitting just .167 but does have three homers and 11 RBI this year.
“When told of his benching yesterday, the Big Hurt said it was an attempt by the club to limit his at bats in order to make sure he didn’t get the 304 plate appearances required to guarantee his $10-million option for next season.
The vesting option was part of the $18.12-million, two-year deal he signed with the Blue Jays in November 2006.
On Saturday, general manager J.P. Ricciardi denied that Thomas’ contract factored into the decision to bench the 19-year veteran.
‘I think the decision is the manager’s based on what he thinks is best for the team,’ said Ricciardi. ‘As a team we’re struggling offensively and I just think Gibby is trying to spark our offence a little bit. A lot of guys are struggling, I don’t think (Thomas) is alone. I think at this point you try and do what you can do to help the club and Gibby’s trying to put our best possible lineup on the field.’”
Thomas joins a rather impressive list of aging stars currently not on a roster, with Barry Bonds certainly at the top of that heap. Jayson Stark had an item the other day on ESPN.com about how owners are perhaps punishing players connected to the Mitchell Report. Stay tuned on that one.