PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Phillies reached a preliminary agreement Wednesday to send Jim Thome and cash to the World Series champion Chicago White Sox for center fielder Aaron Rowand.

The deal is subject to the players passing physicals, the Phillies and White Sox said.

Because of the cash involved, it also must be approved by the commissioner’s office.

The Phillies are giving the White Sox $22 million as part of the deal, a baseball official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the teams did not make that information public.

Thome, an oft-injured first baseman, is owed $43.5 million in the final three seasons of his $85 million, six-year contract. He hit .207 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in just 193 at-bats last season and became expendable after the emergence of Ryan Howard, who won the NL Rookie of the Year award.

Rowand batted .270 with 13 homers and 69 RBIs for the White Sox last season. He will make $3.25 million next year, and his contract includes a $3.25 million player option for 2007. If Rowand declines, his club can exercise the option at $5 million.

Rowand is represented by Craig Landis, also the agent for first baseman Paul Konerko, the MVP of Chicago’s AL championship series win. Konerko became a free agent after the World Series, and Tuesday’s trade doesn’t necessarily mean the White Sox will abandon their attempt to re-sign him since one can be the designated hitter.

If the White Sox do re-sign Konerko, it’s unclear whether they also would attempt to keep Frank Thomas, who also became a free agent. Chicago might move Scott Podsednik from left field to center and give top prospect Brian Anderson a shot in left or in center.

The 28-year-old Rowand, 28 Philadelphia’s need for a center fielder. The Phillies weren’t planning to re-sign Kenny Lofton, who hit .335 while platooning with Jason Michaels in center last year.

The trade is the first major move for new general manager Pat Gillick, who replaced Ed Wade this month. Wade lost his job after the Phillies missed the playoffs for the 12th straight year and 21st time in 22 seasons.

Philadelphia went 88-74 this season and finished one game behind NL wild-card winner Houston.

The Phillies lured Thome away from the Cleveland Indians in 2002, and he hit 47 and 42 homers in his first two seasons in Philadelphia. The 35-year-old Thome has 430 career homers, but is coming off surgery on his right elbow in August.

Thome and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel are close friends from their days together in Cleveland.



AP Sports Writers Rick Gano in Chicago and Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report

AP-ES-11-23-05 1707EST


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