Erik Thames, formerly an outfielder with the Blue Jays and Mariners, converted to first base with the NC Dinos. (Photo Credit: Facebook)
Erik Thames, formerly an outfielder with the Blue Jays and Mariners, converted to first base with the NC Dinos, from South Korea. (Photo Credit: Facebook)

After a couple of weeks of relative quiet, the Hot-Stove period has, well…heated up! The most recent rumors swirling around the Tampa Bay Rays have to do with interest in OF/1B Erik Thames (formerly of the Blue Jays and Mariners, and most recently the NC Dinos, from South Korea), and a reunion with UTL Steve Pearce, among other things.

Erik Thames

Free agent OF/1B Eric Thames, who excelled in the Korea Baseball Organization since 2014, has drawn interest from the Rays, Padres, and Athletics. Thames, previously saw Major League action with Toronto and Seattle from 2011-12, hitting .250 BA/.296 OBP/.431 SLG/.727 OPS with 21 home runs in 684 lackluster plate appearances.

Since his immigration to Korea, however, Thames has hit at least 37 homers in each of the previous three seasons, giving him a combined 124. What’s more, his offensive production has been videogame-like, slashing .348 BA/.450 OBP/.720 SLG/1.170 OPS over 1,634 plate appearances. He also boasts 64 stolen bases on 78 attempts since playing for the NC Dinos.

Assuming he returns to the States, Steve Adams and Tim Dierkes (MLB Trade Rumors) projects Thames to sign a two-year, $10-million deal with the Rays, although one National League executive told Jerry Crasnick ( he could fare even better than that:

Look at some of the money that Cuban players have gotten, said the executive. What’s the difference here? I think somebody is going to bite, and he’ll get a contract for two years and $12 million, or three years and $15-18 million.

Rays interested in a reunion with the Lakeland Launcher, Steve Pearce

The Rays have shown interest in a reunion with UTL Steve Pearce, assuming he’s healthy, according to Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times).

Pearce fared well with his hometown team last season, slashing .309 BA/.388 OBP/.520 SLG/.908 OPS in 80+ games (232 plate appearances), while also providing some pretty nifty glove work at first base while Logan Morrison mended on the DL. With Brad Miller assuming first base going into Spring Training, Pearce could be a right-handed platoon option at first, while also slotting in at DH.

Pearce underwent successful elbow surgery in September, and is expected to be ready for the start of the 2017 regular season.

Adams and Dierkes projects Pearce to sign a two-year, $10-million deal. …Although that projection is with the Yankees.

A pitching trade still in play

Topkin noted too that a deal for a starting pitcher still is very much in play. While Chris Archer remains the most sought-after hurler, and Drew Smyly — who is projected to make $6.9-million in arbitration this winter — is the team’s preferred target, Jake Odorizzi is the most likely to get dealt. Jim Bowden ( concurs with that analysis. Then again, Bowden has cultivated quite a reputation as a shyster, so…

The Dodgers have reported interest in Logan Forsythe

Per Connor Byrne (MLB Trade Rumors), the Los Angeles Dodgers are interested in 2B Logan Forsythe, although it’s uncertain whether the Rays are open to dealing him.

Forsythe has established himself as a quality second baseman extending back to 2015. He’s batted .273 BA/.347 OBP/.444 SLG/.791 OPS with 37 home runs in 1,182 plate appearances since 2015, and stolen 15 bases. Forsythe also accrued a 6.8 fWAR during that span, placing him ninth among the league’s second basemen.

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