Jim Thome has been very good to the Minnesota Twins.
Originally signed to a dirt-cheap $1.5 million contract in 2010, he delivered an incredible performance at the age of 39, almost completely offsetting the loss of Justin Morneau by hitting .301/.436/.664 with 15 home runs and 31 RBI from July 7th (the date of Morneau's concussion) through the end of the season.
In the ensuing offseason, Thome reportedly turned down a more lucrative offer from the Rangers to return to Minnesota and help the Twins settle their unfinished business.
Thome has done his part this season, hitting .248/.357/.485 with 12 home runs (including the all-important No. 600) despite being 40 years old, but almost no one else has. So it was only right that the Twins granted passage from purgatory by trading the slugger to the Indians yesterday for a player to be named later, rather than forcing him to play out what might be his final season with a miserable and completely irrelevant club.
After suffering through one of the most humiliating sweeps in memory at Target Field this week, the Twins are now 55-75. That puts them on pace to finish 69-93, which might be generous considering they'll likely be playing out the season without Scott Baker, Denard Span, Francisco Liriano, Nick Blackburn, Delmon Young and now Thome.
The Indians stand 6 1/2 out in the AL Central. They're a game below .500, and have gone 30-44 since jumping out to a surprising 33-20 start. This flawed Cleveland team stands little chance of overcoming the Tigers and making the playoffs, but Thome will now at least have the opportunity to play meaningful games down the stretch rather than running out the thread with a decimated group that -- despite Joe Mauer's firm insistence to the contrary -- appears to have completely packed it in.
The PTBNL in the deal likely won't amount to much, but it's better than nothing and the important thing here is that the Twins did right by Thome. They owed him that much.