Looking at a future possibly without free agents Paul Konerko and Frank Thomas, the Chicago White Sox partially filled a gaping hole in the middle of their offense by agreeing to trade center fielder Aaron Rowand to the Philadelphia Phillies for first baseman Jim Thome.
Thome, 35, once one of the top power hitters in the game, was beset by injuries last season and hit just .207 with seven home runs and 30 RBI in 59 games. Just two winters ago, he was a prize free agent catch for Philadelphia, signing a six-year, $87.5 million deal. But with $43 million remaining on the contract and the emergence of Ryan Howard at first base, the Phillies decided they had to trade Thome.
In order to get the White Sox to take on Thome's contract, the Phillies will include $22 million.
Philadelphia will also receive left-handers Giovany Gonzalez, Chicago's first-round pick in the 2004 amateur draft, and Daniel Haigwood as part of the deal.
Landing Rowand, a strong defensive center fielder, should improve Philadelphia's outfield. The Phillies aren't interested in re-signing center fielder Kenny Lofton, and Rowand (who hit .270 for Chicago last year) will be an adequate replacement.
It's unclear whether this ends Chicago's pursuit of Konerko, who could platoon at first and at designated hitter with Thome. Konerko's price rose considerably over the postseason. Together the two could cost Chicago around $20 million a year. Should Konerko leave, the White Sox might sign Thomas at a reduced price and play him with Thome.
-- Les Carpenter