After struggling to find his stroke at the plate during MLB’s pandemic-shortened 2020 season, former Nationals first baseman Eric Thames has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. Sports Hochi was the first to report the news.
Thames, 34, signed a one-year, $4 million deal with Washington last offseason that included a mutual option for 2021. However, he hit just .203 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 41 games and appeared in only two contests the final week of the season as the Nationals started leaning on Brock Holt at first base instead. The Nationals declined their side of Thames’s mutual option shortly after the World Series, making him a free agent.
This marks the second time Thames will take his career overseas after playing for the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball Organization from 2014-16. Thames enjoyed a successful stint in Korea, hitting 124 home runs over three seasons and winning league MVP in 2015.
He now joins a Giants team that already has one former National in Gerardo Parra, who played an instrumental role in improving Washington’s clubhouse culture during its 2019 World Series run. The Giants went 67-45-8 in 2020, making their second-straight Japan Series appearance before being swept by the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in four games. Yomiuri also signed former MLB All-Star Justin Smoak this offseason, signaling the organization's intent to continue competing for championships.
If this is it for Thames in MLB, he will finish his career with a .241 average and .792 OPS. He hit 96 home runs and drove in 161 runs over a six-year career that included seasons with the Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays.