More On New Red Sox Reliever Matt Thornton
The Red Sox acquired left-handed reliever Matt Thornton last night in exchange for outfield prospect Brandon Jacobs. As I mentioned last night Thornton is an important get for a depleted Red Sox bullpen. Thornton will be more of a left-handed specialist for the Sox going forward (lefties have a career .229 career BA vrs. Thornton and a .173 average this season.) He has been one of the most prolific lefty specialist in major league baseball over the past several seasons. He has more strikeouts than any other left-handed reliever since 2008 and he’s the Chicago White Sox all-time leader in appearances out of the bullpen by a left-hander. The Red Sox needed to make a move like this after Andrew Miller was lost for the season in Anaheim last weekend. The Sox closed the deal during the game last night and got a head start in the trade deadline frenzy.
Thornton is in his 10th major league season. He pitched 2 years in Seattle before he was traded to Chicago where he has spent the last 7 1/2 seasons. He has a career 3.53 ERA with 573 strikeouts in 585 major league relief appearances. He’s got a nifty 1.275 WHIP for his career. He has scattered 23 saves over his 9 1/2 seasons. He’s pitched in 28 innings this season which is not all that bad for it being a bit past the halfway point for the year. He will primarily only face left-handed batters when he comes into games.
Thornton just signed a 2-year, 12 million dollar contract prior to this season. He has a $1 million buyout built into his contract. The White Sox will send the Red Sox $750,000 along with Thornton which could either cover the buyout in the off-season or a portion of his salary this year or next. Thornton is no spring chicken, he will turn 37 this coming September, so his 2nd half performance will be key in the Red Sox decision to possibly bring him back for 2014. Regardless he is a big get for the Sox’ playoff run and should do well paired up with fellow lefty reliever Craig Breslow. Thornton will be the specialist while Breslow will work more with guys on both sides of the plate (Thornton has a career BA against vrs. RHB of .321 as opposed to Breslow’s .261).
While Thornton is a great addition for the Sox they did give up a prospect in Brandon Jacobs who has a ton of potential. Regardless of his potential the Sox’ crowded 40-man roster made it so he would have likely had to wait until 2015 to crack it. So the White Sox get a guy they can use down the line and the Red Sox get a reliever that they badly needed. Time will tell if Thornton will have the effect on the AL East race that the Red Sox hope he will but the aggressive move on the 12th of July leads me to believe that they are more bullpen pieces that the Red Sox will chase.