When the Phillies signed Jim Thome prior to the 2003 season, it was figured that he would lead them to the promised land of the World Series. Fans envisioned Thome hoisting the World Series trophy high above his head in a triumphant trip down Broad Street. Instead, injuries plagued Thome's third season in Philadelphia and the rise of Ryan Howard hastened his exit.
The Phillies and White Sox agreed to a deal to send Thome and $22 million of the $46 million that he's still owed to Chicago for center fielder Aaron Rowand and minor league pitchers Daniel Haigwood and Giovany Gonzalez.
Rowand was an important part of the White Sox World Series championship in 2005 and hit .270 with 13 homeruns and 69 RBI for the World Champions. Rowand hit .294 in the World Series and .267 in the post-season for Chicago. The Phillies will put the 28 year old in center field, displacing Shane Victorino, who had been figured on to take over for the departing Kenny Lofton.
Key to the deal was Chicago's willingness to pick up a big chunk of Thome's remaining contract. The financial wind fall for the Phillies could help them to re-sign closer Billy Wagner, who is being heavily courted by the Mets. Ironically, the Mets added more payroll on the same day that the Phillies jettisoned payroll when they acquired first baseman Carlos Delgado from the Marlins.
The White Sox also gave up two left-handed pitching prospects in the deal.
Left-hander Giovany Gonzalez was the White Sox first round pick in 2004 and split 2005 between Winston-Salem and Kannapolis - both Class A clubs - Gonzalez went 13-6 with a 2.82 ERA. In his first two professional seasons, the 20 year old is 15-9 with a 2.78 ERA. He has also struck out 226 hitters in 187 2.3 innings.
The Phillies also added a second left-hander in Daniel Haigwood, who turned 22 last week. Haigwood was the Sox' 16th round pick in 2002 and pitched at both Class A Winston-Salem and AA Birmingham this past season posting a combined mark of 14-3 with a 2.82 ERA.
The deal isn't official yet, pending Thome and Rowand passing team physicals. Thome is scheduled for his physical on Friday. Commissioner Bud Selig must also approve the deal because of the amount of money that is being exchanged between the two teams. There doesn't seem to be much concern about Selig giving his blessing on the trade.
In three seasons with the Phillies, Thome hit .260 with 96 homeruns and 266 RBI.