The World Series champions also declined to offer arbitration to designated hitter Carl Everett and backup catcher Raul Casanova. Players who became free agents and weren't offered arbitration can't re-sign with their former clubs until May 1.
Chicago's decision to let Thomas go was not a surprise. The White Sox re-signed first baseman Paul Konerko, agreeing last week to a $60 million, five-year contract, and acquired Jim Thome, who figures to become the designated hitter, in a swap with Philadelphia for center fielder Aaron Rowand.
"The Konerko signing kind of triggered this," Chicago general
manager Ken Williams said at baseball's winter meetings.
Still, Thomas was upset with the way the team handled the decision. He told Chicago newspapers on Tuesday that he thought the White Sox portrayed him as an injured player even though his foot is healed.
"We felt we were sensitive to the injury, to his place in White
Sox history and with our fans," Williams said. "Evidently that
doesn't mean anything."
Hobbled by leg injuries for the second straight season, the 37-year-old Thomas hit .219 with 12 homers and 26 RBI in 34 games. He started the season on the disabled list following surgery, played for the first time on May 31, then went back on the DL on July 21 with another left ankle fracture. He did not play again.
A five-time All-Star, he has a .307 career average with 448 homers and 1,465 RBIs. He won consecutive MVP awards in 1993 and 1994.
"I guess it's just unfortunate that he feels he wasn't
appreciated, because he was," Williams said. "If he has some
things to say about it in the future, we're not going to get into a
back-and-forth, we'll take it on the chin."
Everett hit .251 with 23 homers and 87 RBI last season. Casanova got into just six games with Chicago this year, going 1-for-5. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Charlotte.