Last night, the Red Sox made the first major move on the trade deadline relief pitching market, sending mid-level prospect Brandon Jacobs to the White Sox for lefty Matt Thornton. (The Rockies did snag Mitchell Boggs from the Cardinals, but that deal shapes up as more of a roll of the dice given that Boggs has spent most of the year toiling in Triple-A.) Let's take a look at some of the initial reactions to Boston's move to replace the injured Andrew Miller:
- Looking at the deal from a broader perspective, MLB Network's Peter Gammons tweets that it carries lessons about the trade market. Namely, says Gammons, the deal shows that free cash and toolsy prospects are a powerful combination of trade commodities for a contender to wield.
- Indeed, White Sox GM Rick Hahn says that the club has been pursuing Jacobs for over a year, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. "He's an athletic kid who projects to be a power bat/corner outfielder," Hahn explained. "He's a toolsy player with upside to be an everyday corner outfielder."
- While a trade of Thornton became more and more inevitable as Chicago's season continued to turn south, the late-inning stalwart will be missed by Sox fans. Jim Margalus of South Side Sox took a look at Thornton's interesting path to becoming a dominant reliever.
- From Boston's side of things, the team is tempered in its hopes for Thornton. As the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber explains, the Red Sox intend to deploy him primarily in the sixth and seventh innings and as a lefty specialist. In spite of Thornton's history of success against batters on both sides of the plate, he has been much better against lefties this year. GM Ben Cherington said that whereas Thornton once possessed "elite, elite stuff, … it may just be really good stuff now. But we're confident he has enough stuff to be effective in the role that we need him in." (Click here for a transcript of all of Cherington's remarks, courtesy of WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.)
- Lauber also notes that the Red Sox would have been facing a decision on Jacobs in the offseason. Had the club retained him, it would have had to place him on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
- Jacobs has largely failed to convert his tools into on-field production, Alex Speier of WEEI.com details. Nonetheless, given his immense upside — Speier says a Red Sox official told him that Jacobs had far more tools than Jackie Bradley Jr. — a team like the White Sox was sure to pluck him in the Rule 5 draft. Hence, Speier suggests, it made sense for Boston to cash in Jacobs now.