The Red Sox have declined their $6MM club option on left-hander Matt Thornton, the team announced. Thornton, who was acquired from the White Sox in early July in exchange for outfield prospect Brandon Jacobs, will receive a $1MM buyout and hit the free agent market.
Thornton, 37, pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 15 1/3 innings with the Red Sox following the trade and posted a 3.74 ERA overall in 43 1/3 innings between his two teams. The flamethrower's velocity has begun to drop in recent seasons; he averaged 96.1 mph on his heater in 2010, 95.8 mph in 2011, 95.0 mph in 2012 and 94.2 mph in 2013. It's not a big surprise to see that along with his velocity, Thornton's once sky-high strikeout rate has dipped. Thornton posted a 12.0 K/9 in 2010, 9.5 in 2011, 7.3 in 2012 and 6.2 in 2013.
Despite the dip in velocity, Thornton was solid against left-handed opponents, holding them to a .235/.267/.370 batting line in 89 appearances. He'll join a strong free agent crop of lefty relievers that includes Javier Lopez, J.P. Howell, Boone Logan and Tommy John reclamation project Eric O'Flaherty.