Eric Thames and the Washington Nationals have agreed to terms on a 1 year, $4 million deal, per multiple reports. Thames is apparently getting a $3 million base salary for 2020, and there is a mutual option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout.
Thames, 33, came over to the Milwaukee Brewers from Korea prior to the 2017 season and has been playing first base for them since then, though they opted to decline his $7.5 million team option for 2020 and pay him a $1 million buyout instead, making him a free agent. After putting up a 125 wRC+ in 2017, he’s had a 105 and 116 wRC+ the past two years, and Steamer is bearish on him, projecting a 100 wRC+ for 2020.
Thames wRC+ last year is boosted by the fact he rarely faced a lefty pitcher — he had an 84 wRC+ against lefties in 62 plate appearances, compared to a 122 wRC+ in 397 PAs against righthanders. Thames also had a .325 xwOBA last year compared to a .358 wOBA, likely contributing to Steamer being down on him going forward and on him not finding much of a market for his services.
The Nationals are thought to be trying to bring back Ryan Zimmerman, who likely would share time at first base with Thames. The recent additions of Thames, Asdrubal Cabrera and Starlin Castro would seem to make it fairly unlikely that Washington ends up signing Josh Donaldson, who they had been pursuing aggressively to play third base.