A's confirm increasing offer to Thomas to two years

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland Athletics have increased their efforts to re-sign Frank Thomas, offering the Big Hurt a two-year deal.

The A's made the offer on Thursday -- when general manager Billy Beane spoke to Thomas' agent, Arn Tellem. Thomas has repeatedly said he wanted nothing less than a two-year deal, and Oakland previously offered one year with an option for 2008.

"They've offered two years, but we're still a long way away," Thomas told The Associated Press on Friday after the A's swept the Minnesota Twins to reach the AL Championship Series. "It's something where I want to be here. I'm also at the point in my career where I've got to do the right thing. I'm a free agent."

After playing his first 16 seasons with the Chicago White Sox and dealing with a bitter parting, the 38-year-old Thomas has rejuvenated his career with the A's. He appreciated a fresh start, too.

Thomas batted .270 with 39 home runs and 114 RBI in 137 games this season after two injury-plagued seasons sidelined him for all but 108 games the past two years with the White Sox. He didn't play during their run to the World Series title in 2005.

This year has been a total turnaround.

He homered twice in Oakland's Game 1 win in the division series at Minnesota -- his first postseason homers since 1993 -- and also had a hit in both Games 2 and 3. He is hitting .500 (5-for-10) so far in these playoffs.

Fans chant "MVP! MVP!" whenever he steps into the batter's box.

"Billy had a good conversation with Arn yesterday," A's assistant general manager David Forst said. "We offered two years, and hopefully we're moving toward getting something done."

In August, Oakland owner Lewis Wolff said he was committed to re-signing Thomas, who has been more than just a big bat in the middle of the lineup. Thomas' clubhouse presence has meant just as much during the A's run to winning the AL West and now a playoff series for the first time since 1990.

"I never thought Frank went anywhere," Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said. "Frank Thomas is a good hitter. The guy was hurt last year. If you can get a healthy Frank Thomas, I'd love to have him. We missed that opportunity. Frank Thomas, man can he hit. He can always hit."

Thomas has 487 career home runs, 23rd on the career list, and has said he would like to play until he's 42. The A's got him for a bargain last winter: an incentive-laden $500,000 contract. Thomas earned all $2.6 million of his possible bonuses based on plate appearances and kept his troublesome left foot healthy.

Thomas began last season on the disabled list following ankle surgery, played for the first time on May 31 and then went back on the DL on July 21 with another left ankle fracture. He did not play again and could only watch as the White Sox swept Houston to win the World Series for the first time since 1917.

Still, he batted .219 with 12 homers and 26 RBI in 34 games in 2005. He played only 74 games in '04.

"Everybody was saying he was washed up. Why?" Hunter said. "Why do you think we were trying to get him? He wasn't washed up. He had a foot problem. Now he's healthy and you see what he can do. It's scary. That's why they call him Big Hurt. He'll hurt you. And he's big, too."