The Milwaukee Brewers will have a new first baseman next season. Milwaukee signed free agent Eric Thames to a three-year deal worth upwards of $15 million with a fourth-year club option Jon Heyman confirmed.
In a corresponding move, the Brewers designated first baseman Chris Carter for assignment. Milwaukee announced both moves Tuesday morning.
Thames, 30, who played in the Korean Baseball Organization each of the last three seasons, is expected to take over for Carter at first base, but he can also play outfield. In three seasons in Korea, Thames hit 124 home runs with 379 RBI. During the 2015 season, he batted .381 while smashing 47 bombs and 140 RBI with 40 stolen bases and won the KBO MVP award.
“Eric (Thames) brings to the organization a left-handed power bat that is a good fit for our lineup,” Brewers general manager David Stearns said in a statement. “His ability to play first base along with both corner outfield positions adds versatility to the roster.
“Eric has been extremely impressive over his last three seasons in Korea, and we look forward to his return to the Major Leagues in 2017.”
He will have big shoes to fill. Carter led the National League with 41 home runs this past season, his only one in Milwaukee. However, he also led the league with 206 strikeouts and hit just .222.
Even still, bringing in a player from Korea is definitely risky. Competition there is considered below Japan and more on par with Triple-A than the MLB.
Thames was originally a seventh-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2008 draft. He hit .250 with 21 home runs, 62 RBI, 84 runs and three stolen bases in 633 at-bats with Toronto and Seattle in 2011 and 2012..