Oakland A's Add A Legend

OAKLAND—The wait is over. Frank Thomas is officially an Oakland Athletic. Since rumors about the A's interest in the longtime Chicago White Sox slugger began to swirl during the Winter Meetings, A's fans have been teased with articles claiming that Thomas was on the verge of inking a one-year deal with the A's. Now the news is official and Thomas can be written firmly into the line-up for the 2006 Oakland A's.

The A's announced on Wednesday that they had agreed to a one-year deal with slugger Frank Thomas. The deal is believed to be worth a base of $500,000 with incentives that can reach $3.1 million. The right-handed hitter will be officially introduced to the Bay Area media on Thursday at a press conference.

Thomas had spent all 16 years of his career as a member of the Chicago White Sox. He brings a career .307 batting average, 448 home runs and a career OPS of 995 with him to Oakland. He also brings with him a cloud of questions surrounding the health of his left ankle. A bone break in that ankle has caused him to miss much of the last two seasons and was the driving reason the White Sox chose not to re-sign their franchise-leading home run hitter.

If Thomas is healthy, he will give the A's some sorely needed power from the middle of their line-up. Last season, the team managed only 155 home runs and had only two players reach the 20-homer plateau. Thomas hit 12 homers last season in only 105 at-bats. Thomas also gives the A's another hitter who sees a lot of pitches and works the count well. He has a career on-base percentage of .427.

Although Thomas has traditionally hit better at the White Sox home ballparks, he does have a history of hitting well at the Oakland Coliseum. He has a career 948 OPS at the Coliseum, with 16 home runs in only 71 career games played.

Thomas will join the A's other off-season acquisition Milton Bradley in a revamped middle of the line-up which should provide a lot more protection for A's third baseman Eric Chavez. Chavez appeared to struggle under the strain of trying to carry the A's offense on his own last season and finished with an OPS under 800 for the first time since his rookie year. The additions of both Thomas and the switch-hitting Bradley will give the A's line-up more balance, as it was often left-handed heavy last season.

With the addition of Thomas, Nick Swisher will likely be moved back to the outfield (he was reportedly going to play first base with Bradley, Mark Kotsay and Jay Payton in the outfield and Dan Johnson at designated hitter). Payton will become the A's fourth outfielder, although he is expected to get plenty of playing time, as both Thomas and Bradley have a history of injury problems and Kostay will need to be rested on occasion due to a bad back. Outfielder Bobby Kielty could be a candidate to be traded as his playing time will be reduced if Thomas spends much of the year healthy. However, the A's are known to like the versatility that the switch-hitting Kielty brings to the A's bench.

Thomas is the most high-profile free-agent signing the A's have made since they brought back Rickey Henderson in 1998 on a free agent deal.

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