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A report has Jim Thome (pictured) and Jason Kubel being claimed on waivers, which could lead to trades by the Twins.

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Twins outfielder Jason Kubel

Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Kubel, Thome deals may be near

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • August 25, 2011 - 11:31 AM

Twins designated hitter Jim Thome, always the gentleman, smiled as he said, "I have no comment.''

Reports on Wednesday had the Chicago White Sox as one of the teams placing a waiver claim on the Twins slugger, raising the possibility he could jump out of a Twins ship that's taking on water for a life raft headed for the Windy City, where the White Sox were 6 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central.

An ESPN report also had Twins outfielder Jason Kubel claimed as well. As of Wednesday night, it was not known if Chicago had won the claims or not.

Thome said that he didn't know what was going to happen to him over the next two days. At least he knows that, ultimately, nothing will happen unless he says so.

That's the power that comes with having a no-trade clause, which Thome has in his $3 million contract with the Twins for this season.

Thome can't be moved unless he agrees to waive the clause, which allows him to leap into a pennant race if he wants to. And, based on comments after he hit his 600th career home run -- the one thing he's missing is a World Series title after losing the series twice with the Indians.

How far the Twins are willing to go to accommodate Thome is not clear. But there is some concern in-house that owner Jim Pohald wouldn't be comfortable signing off on an elaborate veto-release maneuver that could allow Thome to become a free agent and sign with the team of his choice, which could be the Phillies, where he would be reunited with manager Charlie Manuel.

Thome could veto a deal (Chicago is not a lock for the postseason and neither is Cleveland). The Twins would then put Thome on release waivers, and Thome could reject a move to any team that tried to claim him. That would make him a free agent, able to sign wherever he wants. And, since he's about to turn 41, Thome likely wants to be on a sure thing for the postseason, which the Phillies are.

If Thome is willing to go to Chicago, the Twins and White Sox could work out their first trade since 1986, when the Twins received Juan Agosto and Kurt Walker for Pete Filson. And who knows? Another team could be in play.

Don't expect a big-time prospect in return for Thome if he does agree to be traded. Chicago sent Thome, who had cleared waivers, and cash to Los Angeles on Aug. 31, 2009 for infielder Justin Fuller, who is 28 years old and still in the minors.

Another thing to consider is that a team like Chicago puts in a claim on Thome and Kubel just to block other teams from getting them. The Twins then would pull them back off waivers and they can't be traded.

If a deal is possible, the Twins could get more for Kubel who, like Thome, is a free agent after the season.

"We'll see what happens,'' Kubel said. "Maybe something will happen, Maybe nothing will happen.''

Kubel didn't show signs of the reports affecting him, as he broke a 0-for-14 skid Wednesday with a double off the right-center field wall.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said his concern is how players handle trade rumors.

"It happens,'' Gardenhire said. "Just like the [July]trade deadline happens. You just have to live with it and move on.''

The next two days will be interesting. If the Twins have a chance to negotiate a trade, they have until noon on Friday to make it happen.

It just so happens that Friday is Jim Thome Wind Up Walker night at Target Field.

Maybe, when you wind it up, it will walk all the way to Chicago. Or Cleveland. Or Philadelphia.

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