October 13, 2002
CLEVELAND -- Jim Thome's agent wants the Indians to make the first pitch.
General manager Mark Shapiro said Saturday that Thome's agent, Pat Rooney, has recommended to the club that it make a contract offer to its career home run leader before he becomes eligible for free agency.
Shapiro, however, said the Indians haven't decided when they will present a deal.
"We're still evaluating when is the right time," said Shapiro, who said he began talks with Rooney right after the season ended. "We're taking that into consideration. We'll make our best offer when we feel that the time is right."
Thome hit a club-record 52 homers this season and is arguably the most popular player in Cleveland's history.
The 32-year-old is eligible to file for free agency 15 days after the World Series. When the 15 days have expired, other teams can make offers to Thome.
Shapiro said he cannot worry about other teams making a colossal offer. The midmarket Indians are rebuilding and can't overspend on one player or they'll lose all the flexibility to sign young players or add other free agents.
"We're not going to play in the market," Shapiro said. "We're going to make a great offer to Jimmy, one that shows how much we appreciate him and how much that we want to keep him. But we, as an organization, cannot compete in a free market."
BREWERS: Outfielder Scott Podsednik was claimed off waivers from the Mariners, and right-handed pitcher Jose Mieses was designated for assignment. The 26-year-old Podsednik hit .200 with one homer and five RBIs in 14 games in September with the Mariners. Mieses missed the season with arm troubles.