We've known for some time that the Dodgers' options for third outfielder with Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are underwhelming. With current depth chart toppers Tony Gwynn and Jay Gibbons both left-handed batters, as is the out-of-options Xavier Paul, the Dodgers are in desperate need of a right-handed bat, preferably one who could play the outfield. Marcus Thames is apparently the man for that role, as he has signed a contract with the Dodgers, per Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times.
The interest in Thames was mentioned earlier today in a tweet from Danny Knobler of CBS Sportsline, and confirmed by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com this afternoon. Gurnick also mentioned Gabe Kapler and (lefty) Eric Chavez as other veteran bench options. Hernandez tweeted that the Dodgers are close to a minor league deal with Kapler.
Thames doesn't provide much in the way of defense (his career UZR/150 in the outfield is -7.6 runs, and he has started just 40 total games in the outfield in the last two seasons), but he would give the Dodgers at the very least their best bench power threat from the right side since the heyday of Olmedo Saenz.
Thames in his career has hit .264/.333/.505 against southpaws, and has an OPS of better than .800 against lefties in each of the last five seasons. In the last five seasons, Thames has 33 doubles and 35 home runs in 640 plate appearances against southpaws.
Thames, who turns 34, made $900,000 with the Yankees last season, and hit .288/.350/.491 in 237 PA with New York. The assumption here is that Thames would sign for relatively cheap (somewhere near the $2.125 million annually that Matt Diaz got, for instance), and if used judiciously he could be a great bargain. Given the Dodgers current cast of characters for the Dodgers' third outfield spot, Thames has a low bar to clear.
The signing of Thames, when official, will give the Dodgers 40 players on their 40-man roster. Assuming Thames doesn't pull a Giles, Thames will be the first Marcus in Dodger history.