White Sox send Rowand to Phils for Thome

Updated: November 25, 2005, 6:07 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies and the White Sox on Friday completed their deal that sends slugger Jim Thome to Chicago for center fielder Aaron Rowand.

Aaron Rowand
Rowand

Jim Thome
Thome

The trade was announced on Wednesday, but wasn't official until the players passed their physicals. Philadelphia also gets minor-league left-hander Daniel Haigwood and a player to be named later.

A source told ESPN Insider's Jerry Crasnick that the second minor leaguer the Phillies will receive is Gio Gonzalez, a supplemental first-round pick (38th overall) for the White Sox in the 2004 draft.

The Phillies are giving the White Sox $22 million as part of the deal, a baseball official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the teams did not make that information public.

It's the first major move for the White Sox since winning their first World Series championship in 88 years last month. The injury-plagued Thome fills Chicago's need for a left-handed swinging power threat. He could DH or play first base if free agent Paul Konerko doesn't re-sign. Konerko, the AL Championship Series MVP, is not expected to choose a team before the winter meetings, which begin Dec. 5 in Dallas.

Thome's departure clears the path for NL Rookie of the Year Ryan Howard in Philadelphia. Howard batted .288 with 22 homers and 63 RBI in 88 games after Thome went down with an elbow injury.

Rowand batted .270 with 13 homers and 69 RBI for the White Sox last season. In the postseason, he hit .400 in the division series, .167 in the ALCS and .294 in the World Series. Rowand established himself as a starter in 2004, when he hit .310 with 24 homers.

The gritty Rowand is an outstanding defensive player and fills the Phillies' need for a center fielder. The team wasn't going to re-sign Kenny Lofton, who batted .335 while platooning with Jason Michaels last year.

"I've watched him play and he really gets after it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Rowand. "He's a hard-nosed player. I like the way he plays. He's a good center fielder and has some pop. He's my kind of player."

Thome was one of the AL's top sluggers with the Cleveland Indians, before joining the Phillies after the 2002 season. A native of Peoria, Ill., he talked with the Chicago Cubs before signing an $85 million, six-year contract with Philadelphia.

Thome hit a total of 89 home runs in his first two seasons with the Phillies before back and elbow injuries limited him to 59 games this year, when he slumped to .207 with seven homers and 30 RBI in 193 at-bats.

The 35-year-old has 430 career homers, but is coming off surgery on his right elbow in August.

He is owed $43.5 million over the final three seasons of his $85 million, six-year contract. The deal also calls for the final $2.5 million of his $10 million signing bonus to be paid next year, normally the responsibility of the original club.

Rowand will make $3.25 million next year, and his contract includes a $3.25 million player option for 2007. If Rowand declines, his club can exercise the option at $5 million.

"He's a hard-nosed, championship-caliber player, someone who will fit right in here in Philadelphia," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said.

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. Without Rowand to patrol center, Chicago might move Scott Podsednik from left field to center and give top prospect Brian Anderson a shot in left or center.

The trade was the first big move for 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 year and finished one game behind NL wild-card winner Houston.

The White Sox went 11-1 in the postseason, sweeping Boston in the first round, beating the Angels in five games in the AL championship series and then taking four straight from the Astros in the World Series.

Haigwood, 22, went a combined 14-3 with a 2.82 ERA in 26 starts between Single-A Winston-Salem (8-2, 3.77 ERA) and Double-A Birmingham (6-1, 1.74 ERA).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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