According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, the Cleveland Indians are close to finalizing a minor league deal with former Rockies slugger Jason Giambi. The contract would also include an invitation to spring training.
The 41-year-old Giambi will be competing for a spot on the bench as a left-handed designated hitter and would give the Indians depth at first base.
The 18-year veteran had a dismal year last season, batting .225 with only one home run, eight RBI and seven runs scored in 89 at-bats. However, this was following a year where he hit .260 with 13 home runs, 32 RBI and 20 runs scored in only 131 at-bats playing part-time off the bench.
Giambi is a lifetime .280 hitter, with 429 home runs, 1,405 RBI and 1,203 runs scored in 7,021 at-bats. The former 2000 American League MVP is also a five-time All-Star, a two-time Silver Slugger and has received MVP votes seven times in his career, but has also never won a World Series ring in seven postseason appearances.
Though Giambi is obviously way past his prime as far as a day-to-day player is concerned, he'll still add valuable left-handed power off of the bench. If he can stay healthy, will almost certainly reach double digits in home runs, RBI and runs scored.
However, does Giambi's signing mean that the Indians will not be pursuing fan favorite Jim Thome?
Even though Giambi's potential deal comes at very low risk to the Indians, from a fan and marketing perspective, they should have brought Thome back and let him retire in an Indians uniform.
And though Giambi had a decent 2011 campaign, both he and Thome project to have the same kind of offensive significance going into 2013. Both are massive left-handed power threats off the bench, so why not sign Thome over Giambi?
Though fans may be disappointed that Thome will not be returning, this deal can only benefit the tribe if Giambi is able to stay healthy.