Thome is a 39-year-old limited to hitting duties — he hasn't played in the field since 2007 and has logged a total of 28 innings the last four season combined — whose numbers against left-handed pitching have deteriorated to the point that he's essentially a platoon player.
The Twins have a left-handed hitting DH in Jason Kubel. They also like to use the DH slot to give Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau partial days off — keep their bats in the lineup but their bodies sitting.
There's no fit there. Thome would be a pinch-hit specialist, and one can see the value in having him swing that dangerous bat in Nick Punto's stead come the ninth inning of a one-run game against the likes of Bobby Jenks or Jose Valverde.
But if that's all he does, can the Twins afford to carry him? It's tough to see it with a 25-man roster and 12 pitchers. The Twins back in 1991-92 carried Randy Bush as a pinch-hit specialist, but they rostered just 10 pitchers back then.
Assuming that Brendan Harris is the regular third baseman, the bench right now projects out thusly:
- Jose Morales, backup catcher (or possibly Drew Butera, same role).
- Jason Pridie, backup outfielder (legs and glove to spell Denard Span).
- Matt Tolbert or Alexi Casilla, utility infielder.
- This could be Thome's roster spot. But that doesn't leave a lot of depth among guys who can actually play in the field.
Of course, the Phillies carried Matt Stairs all season — but they, by virtue of not playing in a DH league, had an extra bench slot. (Eight regulars plus 12 pitchers equals five reserve position players; in the Twins case, Kubel becomes a ninth regular.)
Meanwhile the White Sox — who have said all winter they were going to split the DH job up among multiple players — are suddenly talking abut bringing him back. But Ozzie Guillen apparently plans to carry 13 pitchers — and if it's tough to carry such a limited player with a 12-pitcher roster, it's even more difficult with 13.