White Sox to deal Rowand for Phillies' Thome

Updated: November 25, 2005, 9:42 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Phillies reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday to send Jim Thome and cash to the World Series champion Chicago White Sox for center fielder Aaron Rowand.

The deal, first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney, is subject to the players passing physicals, the Phillies and White Sox said. Because of the cash involved, it also must be approved by the commissioner's office. The Phillies are giving the White Sox $22 million as part of the deal, a baseball official speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press.

A source told ESPN Insider's Jerry Crasnick that the Phillies will also receive two minor-league left-handed pitchers, Daniel Haigwood and Gio Gonzalez, a supplemental first-round pick (38th overall) for the White Sox in the 2004 draft.

Jim Thome
Thome

Aaron Rowand
Rowand

Thome, an oft-injured first baseman, is owed $43.5 million in the final three seasons of his contract. He hit .207 with seven homers and 30 RBI in just 193 at-bats last season and became expendable after the emergence of Ryan Howard, who won the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told ESPN.com that he spoke by phone with Thome on Wednesday afternoon, and that Thome seemed happy about going to Chicago. Thome grew up in Peoria, Ill., and the trade gives him an opportunity to be closer to his father and his family. His mother died of cancer last January.

Manuel had previously managed Thome in the minor leagues and with the Cleveland Indians.

"If you want to know the truth, the news kind of numbed me,'' Manuel said. "Jimmy is like my son. I've been around him his whole career, and I've been a part of all the places that he's been. I hate to see him leave, but I know he's going to bounce back and have a hell of a big year in Chicago.''

Thome, 35, is due about $12.5 million in 2006 and $14 million in each of the final two seasons of his six-year contract. The Phillies have a club option for 2009, and he has a no-trade clause.

Rowand, 28, set career highs in 2004 by hitting .310 with 38 doubles, 24 homers and 69 RBI.

He became eligible for salary arbitration for the first time after making $340,000 in 2004, and signed a new contract with the White Sox in January.

He earned $2 million in 2005 and is expected to receive $3.25 million in 2006. Chicago has a club option for 2007 at $5 million and Rowand holds a player option for 2007 at $3.25 million.

Rowand is represented by Craig Landis, also the agent for first baseman Paul Konerko, the MVP of Chicago's AL Championship Series win. Konerko became a free agent after the World Series, and Tuesday's trade doesn't necessarily mean the White Sox will abandon their attempt to re-sign him since one can be the designated hitter.

If the White Sox do re-sign Konerko, it's unclear whether they also would attempt to keep Frank Thomas, who also became a free agent. Chicago might move Scott Podsednik from left field to center and give top prospect Brian Anderson a shot in left or in center.

The 28-year-old Rowand fills Philadelphia's need for a center fielder. The Phillies weren't planning to re-sign Kenny Lofton, who hit .335 while platooning with Jason Michaels in center last year.

The trade is the first major move for new general manager Pat Gillick, who replaced Ed Wade this month. Wade lost his job after the Phillies missed the playoffs for the 12th straight year and 21st time in 22 seasons.

Philadelphia went 88-74 this season and finished one game behind NL wild-card winner Houston.

The Phillies lured Thome away from the Cleveland Indians in 2002, and he hit 47 and 42 homers in his first two seasons in Philadelphia. The 35-year-old Thome has 430 career homers, but is coming off surgery on his right elbow in August.

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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