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Wednesday, Feb. 21
The Indiana Daily Student


Thome agrees to $87.5 million contract with Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Jim Thome hit a lot of home runs and helped the Cleveland Indians sell out Jacobs Field for several years. The Philadelphia Phillies hope he does the same at their new stadium.\nThome, the most coveted hitter in the free-agent market, agreed Monday to a six-year contract with the Phillies, two baseball officials said. He accepted a deal worth about $87.5 million, one of the officials said on the condition of anonymity.\nFor the deal to become final, the 32-year-old first baseman must pass a physical.\nThe Phillies are aggressively trying to improve as they prepare to move into their new ballpark in 2004.\nPhiladelphia agreed to a $17 million, four-year contract with third baseman David Bell on Nov. 24. The Phillies also have a $30 million, three-year offer out to free agent left-hander Tom Glavine, a two-time NL Cy Young award winner.\nPhillies general manager Ed Wade wouldn't discuss whether Thome had signed. He said negotiations with Glavine are in the "critical stage."\nThome, who hit a club-record 52 homers for the Indians last season, turned down a $60 million, five-year offer from the only team he has played for since he was a 13th-round pick in the 1989 amateur draft. The left-handed slugger has a .287 batting average, 334 homers and 927 RBIs in a 12-year major league career.\nThome hit .304 with 118 RBIs, 122 walks and a .445 on-base percentage last season. He has hit at least 30 homers seven straight years and has driven in more than 100 runs in six of the last seven seasons.\nWhile Bell takes over at third base from All-Star Scott Rolen, traded to St. Louis last summer, Thome replaces Rolen's power in the middle of a lineup that includes Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell.\nThome's arrival signals the end of Travis Lee's time as Philadelphia's starting first baseman. Lee came to the Phillies in 2000 in the trade that sent Curt Schilling to Arizona.\nThe Indians won six division titles and went to the World Series twice during Thome's tenure. The Phillies, meanwhile, are coming off their 14th losing season in 16 years.\nThome began his career as a third baseman, but moved to first when the Indians acquired Matt Williams before the 1997 season. Thome hit 40 homers in 1997, 49 in 2001. Though he has had some back trouble, Thome has played at least 146 games in six of the last seven seasons.\nThome's departure leaves a big hole in the Indians' lineup and another one in the heart of Cleveland fans.\nHe was one of the most popular players in club history, and was recently given the Roberto Clemente Award, presented by the commissioner's office for charity work and community service.\nThome is the third slugger since 1996 to leave the Indians as a free agent, following Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez.\nIndians second baseman John McDonald was saddened to hear Thome was likely leaving.\n"Coming up in the Indians system, Jimmy was a guy everyone looked up to," McDonald said. "I always wanted to play next to him, and I'm just sorry I won't ever get a chance to do that again. I'm happy for Jimmy and his family, but I'm just really sorry for the Indians family."\nThome becomes the highest-paid player in Phillies history, and the most prolific free agent to sign with the team since Pete Rose joined them 24 years ago. Thome met with team officials and toured Philadelphia on Nov. 7, but waited nearly a month to make his decision.

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