The steal of the offseason (so far)

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Updated: April 18, 2017

As I go into this, remember that it’s April. Remember that it’s a small sample size and in no way indicative of the full season. Remember that weird things can happen in just three weeks of baseball. Remember all of that when I say that…

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Eric Thames was the steal of the 2016 offseason. Eric Thames signed a three-year $16MM contract in the offseason with a $7.5MM club option for a fourth year. He spent the last three years playing in Korea where he hit a lot of homeruns. He has been back in the major leagues for (almost) three weeks and has already hit seven homeruns, including homeruns in his past five games. Eric Thames was the steal of the 2017 offseason and he might have the best contract in all of baseball.

Think of the other 2016 MLB free agents. 34-year old Edwin Encarnacion for three years and $60MM. He doesn’t have seven homeruns, he’s actually been worth negative -0.1 WAR thus far this season. 2016 homerun king Mark Trumbo signed for three years $37.5MM. He’s also been worth negative WAR at -0.2. Ian Desmond hasn’t played a game for the Rockies and everyone in the world has hated that 5-year $70MM contract since the moment it was signed. Even a relatively risk free contract like Matt Holliday for 1-year $13MM doesn’t look as good as Thames. Holliday has a .863 OPS on the young season and has been considered a sucess, but he is no Thames.

Eric Thames is murdering baseballs right now. The price of a win this offseason was roughly $8MM per win. Thus far, according to FanGraphs, Thames has been worth 1.2 wins. He’s only being paid $4MM this season. FOUR MILLION DOLLARS. Think about that, if Eric Thames does not play another game this season it won’t matter because he has already doubled his contract value. More than doubled actually as FanGraphs dollars per WAR put him at $9.7 which is more than his 2017 and 2018 contracts combined.

Of course, he won’t slug 1.000 forever. That’s impossible. Barry Bonds 73-homerun season saw him slug .863 and that is the major league record. Eric Thames won’t outperform the greatest hitter ever forever, but right now? He’s the greatest and we should all enjoy the ride. He’s homered in five straight games, can he keep it going? The record of homers in consecutive games is eight and it is held by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Dale Long. Can he do that? He’s halfway to 14 which is the Albert Pujols/Alex Rodriguez record for the most homeruns in April. What can Thames do before he inevitably cools down/gets adjusted to? I’m excited to find out.

This is a true homerun for Brewers general manager David Stearns. Pairing Thames in the lineup with Ryan Braun and young sluggers Keon Broxton and Domingo Santana has put this team way ahead of schedule on their rebuild. They have an elite offense and while their pitching needs help (help that could be on the way in the form of Josh Hader), they are an early Wild Card contender. Even if they don’t stay that way, they are over .500 right now which should be considered a success as that is something that this team hasn’t done since 2014.

That is a team effort, but let’s be honest: it’s all because of Eric Thames.

All hail Eric Thames.

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