Nationals Acquire Matt Thornton From Yankees

1:54pm: The Nationals have in fact acquired Thornton after placing a claim, reports Heyman. It’s not yet clear whether or what the Nationals will send in return other than taking on salary, says Heyman. MLB: New York Yankees at Oakland Athletics

1:44pm: The Nationals have claimed Matt Thornton off revocable waivers from the Yankees, Jon Heyman of reports on Twitter. Washington was awarded its claim on Thornton, which indicates that every club in the American League clubs and all National League clubs with a worse record than the Nats passed on the opportunity. (Be sure to read this primer on August trades if you have not done so already.)

This means that the Nationals have 48.5 hours from the point that the claim was awarded (which remains unclear) to work out a deal. If a trade cannot be arranged, the Yankees will have to decide whether to allow the Nationals to take on Thornton’s contract without compensation. (Having placed the claim, the Nats would be obliged to accept it.)

Thornton has been excellent this year, pitching to a 2.55 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 over 24 2/3 innings. He signed a two-year, $7MM deal over the offseason, under which he is promised a $3.5MM annual salary in each season. The Nationals have been said to be looking hard to add a southpaw pen piece, though it would be somewhat of a surprise if the Yankees moved a player who has been a fairly valuable contributor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

68 Responses to Nationals Acquire Matt Thornton From Yankees Leave a Reply

  1. BVHjays 11 months ago

    Isn’t Heyman implying that the Nationals are acquiring him? Kind of odd wording. Would be odd of the Yankees to let him go though, too.

    • Guest 11 months ago

      The wording was odd. “Get him” refers to was awarded the claim.

  2. Jack Cox 11 months ago

    Wait Hang on, Wouldn’t that mean there were teams that did pass on him if the Nats ended up getting the claim?

    • Mitchel H. Griffith 11 months ago


    • letsgogiants 11 months ago

      I’m kinda surprised the Tigers didn’t take a shot at him. Maybe with the acquisition of Price, their payroll could have been about maxed out this season.

      He is signed onto next season as well, so who knows whether a team might have actually wanted to guarantee him 3.5 million next season when there are relievers out there who can be had for less.

    • Brian McKain 11 months ago

      From the article: “Washington was awarded its claim on Thornton, which indicates that no American League clubs and all National League clubs with a worse record passed on the opportunity.”

      • Jeff_Todd_MLBTR 11 months ago

        That should say ‘all’ American League clubs – apparently one half of my brain changed the sentence construction in mid-stream and forgot to tell the other.

  3. Frittoman626 11 months ago

    I’m not a big Thornton fan but I don’t see how this benefits the Yankees to trade this guy unless Lindgren is being moved from AA to the majors. If I were the Yankees I’d just hold on to him since he’s being paid pennies and he’s pitched well as of late.

    • WashingtonRancors 11 months ago

      Sounds like Cashman does not agree, out the door he goes!

      • Frittoman626 11 months ago

        Oh well, just don’t be upset if becomes Mike Gonzalez 2.0 for you guys.

    • Baseball Legend 11 months ago

      Thorton was signed to a 2 year $7mm base deal. He has been middle of the pack for them. Healthy, and mildly effective. With Lindgren on the way, he’ll take that role come Sept and they Yanks just got a jump for 2015 by moving that little bit of salary.

    • TRAPstar 11 months ago

      7 million in pennies!

  4. Dynasty22 11 months ago

    Heh, I wasn’t expecting this. There are cheaper options for a LOOGY, however. Preferably Lindgren.

    • Danny Phillips 11 months ago

      Leftys and righties both hitting 237 off Thorton. Doesn’t scream LOOGY to me. Unless the $$$$ees were using him as one.

  5. Jack Cox 11 months ago

    Are the rules for Waiver Trades in August the same as DFA’s?

    • Melvin Mendoza, Jr. 11 months ago

      Not quite. In August, teams can put players on waivers for 2 days. If after 2 days they are not claimed by any other team, they can be freely traded up until August 31st. If they are claimed, they can only be negotiated to the team that claimed them.

  6. DerekJeterDan 11 months ago

    Yankees are okay with letting Matt Thornton walk because Jacob Lindgren will be fast tracked to the MLB and long term he’s the answer. He’s putting up filthy numbers in the Minor Leagues. Definitely a steal Draft Pick in the late 2nd Round. Already MLB ready.

    • jjs91 11 months ago

      Webb is also in AAA, but less of a prospect.

    • Victoria Roberts 11 months ago

      I think you need to see what he can do above A+ ball and with a few more than 13.1 innings before you give him a job in the pen.

      • MB923 11 months ago

        Why is that? Not all players play in the minors. I’m not comparing the 2, but look at Mike Leake. A career total of 2 games (1 start) played in the minors (and he had a 9.82 ERA)

        • Victoria Roberts 11 months ago

          Largely because there have probably been 2 or 3 players in the past 40 or so years that have come up that quick and hundreds more who actually needed at least one season in the minors. He hasn’t pitched above A+ ball yet. I think it’s a little to early to evaluate.

          • MB923 11 months ago

            Hey I’m not saying I disagree with you, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve heard some reports that this guy can be sent straight to the majors ever since he got drafted (strictly as a reliever though, and obviously these aren’t my wrods). Also how could I forget Joba (who as we all know the Yankees ruined by making a starter) and he pitched only 3 games in AAA and was flat out Dominant to start his career.

          • Victoria Roberts 11 months ago

            Right, but he pitched in 88 innings before getting a callup. And he did actually pitch in AAA. Maybe they will call him up and maybe he’ll be fantastic. But again I don’t think 13.1 innings at no higher than A+ is enough to make that call. And don’t feed me the team ruined him line. The pitchers pitch, not the team. The fact that he only had two descent pitches ruined him.

          • Timothy Rissland 11 months ago

            But he pitched 4 years of College ball and played in the CWS. You think A Ball teams could compete with the best of College teams? I dont not to mention college players are gonna be older. He’s pretty well seasoned. You dont waste that high of a draft pick on a reliever if he isnt MLB close.

          • levendis 11 months ago

            I’m assuming he’ll spend August in the minors, and depending on how he pitches he can be in AAA by the end of it. If he gets called up it will be in September, when rosters expand. As of now Rich Hill is taking Thornton’s spot.

    • Michael Chaney 11 months ago

      As an Indians fan, Lindgren reminds me a lot of Kyle Crockett. Crockett has only pitched 49 innings in the minors (and some of them were after his major league debut).

      I think Crockett was probably more major league ready than Lindgren is, but it’s not a big difference. Lindgren is definitely on the fast track, and while it’s too early to promote him right now, he could hold his own in the majors if he got promoted in the near future.

      But Crockett at least made a few Double-A appearances before pitching in the majors (he pitched a little at Triple-A after being demoted). So Lindgren probably needs more seasoning, but he’ll be a really good replacement sometime soon.

    • LazerTown 11 months ago

      I don’t think it had to be an either or though. Thornton has been better when he is just pitching the whole inning. Is the backend of the pen currently good enought that they need to move him?

  7. Since_77 11 months ago

    Wow, did not see this coming. This leaves Huff as the only lefty in the bullpen.

  8. MB923 11 months ago

    “Thornton has been excellent this year”

    14 of 42 inherited runners have scored off Thornton. When you have more games played (42) than Innings Pitched (24.2), it is not likely you are going to give up a ton of runs. Sure the K/9 and BB/9 ratios are good, but you should be looking at deeper stats

    In high leverage situations, his slash line against is .357/.419/.481

    • jjs91 11 months ago

      Didn’t help that he was pitching like a ground ball pitcher without an infield.

      • MB923 11 months ago

        Fair points, plus he has not allowed a HR all year.

        • letsgogiants 11 months ago

          Again, that could be due to the low number of innings he has pitched. But still, given he pitched in Yankee Stadium as his home ball park, that’s not too bad.

    • Scott Berlin 11 months ago

      In those 24 innings he’s had 42 runners on base before the threw a pitch if I’m reading that correct. It sounds/seems like he hardly goes to the mound with the bases cleared.

      • MB923 11 months ago

        And he’s allowed 14 of those 42 runners to score as I mentioned. In 42 games played with 42 inherited runners, that’s obviously an average of exactly 1 inherited runner per appearance.

        I’m not saying he’s having a bad year, but lately he’s been terrible in high leverage situations. And as you see above, look at the latter part of what I wrote with High Leverage Situations.

        • bucsws2014 11 months ago

          My initial reaction was why the Bucs didn’t take a shot at claiming Thornton. And you just explained why.

          Bucs dumped Bryan Morris for the same issue, except Morris was even worse in allowing inherited runners to score. But he seems to be working out in Miami, so maybe a change in venue helps Thornton.

    • هذا الرجل رهيبة الكبير خليل 11 months ago

      Hes still having a solid year, I would rather have him face lefties than David Huff

    • Jeff_Todd_MLBTR 11 months ago

      It’s fair to point out, but I don’t personally put a ton of stock in those figures in a short sample, and not sure I would call them deeper than his rate stats (which include an excellent GB rate). For a guy w his level of experience and past success, I don’t think he just gets the jitters with runners on.

  9. Michael Chaney 11 months ago

    Good job, Jeff. You’ve been really busy lately and you’ve stayed on top of everything. Well done.

  10. Baseball Legend 11 months ago

    This is an awesome deal. I always felt that
    Thorton wasn’t an ideal piece for the Yanks and if they just traded him (or cut
    his salary) all the better. I tell you, high praise on here for Cherington and
    a few other GM’s who I think actually have made some incredibly poor
    transactions, yet Cashman continues to make high impact, low cost, with little
    given up type of moves. I think this just highlights the extreme media bias
    towards the Red Sox, for example, where they make a few questionable trades on
    yet another losing team (a losing team is representative of 1. lack of money or
    2. a weak front office) and they are hailed as being a pioneer for a new style
    of “seller trades” yet, Cashman and others makes so incredibly
    acquisitions and no one gives a hoot. Someday, someone will explain of this in
    detail for me and make sense of why a garbage team like the Sox (for multiple
    recent years) is praised as the holy grail of sports organizations.

    • Fangaffes 11 months ago

      One certainly couldn’t quibble with your completely objective analysis. Wait. How many championships have the Yankees won this century?

      • Baseball Legend 11 months ago

        Or better yet, how many below .500 teams have the Yankee’s fielded in the last 2 decades? That’s a far more relevant question. The how many WS have the Red Sox won point of view is flawed. So you rather have 4 years of 70 win team and one WS? That’s not a great way to run a billion dollar sports organization.

        • Fangaffes 11 months ago

          Depends whether you’re more interesting in winning championships or making money.

          • jjs91 11 months ago

            Because the best team always wins the WS.

    • jjs91 11 months ago

      This isn’t really that great of a move.

      • Baseball Legend 11 months ago

        Not true. I think it just highlights Cashman getting out in front of the market. Thorton wasn’t all that effective, although he did keep the ball in the park, so I suppose that counts for a lot, especially at Yankee stadium. I think he made a move at the perfect time, seeing as he otherwise could have been an outright release candidate at some point.

  11. PieroB 11 months ago

    Ladson still hasn’t confirmed.

  12. Ted 11 months ago

    There wasn’t one team in the AL that was willing to claim him? He’s owed what, $4.5MM for the rest of this year and next, is a lefty, and puts up consistently decent numbers? Don’t get it…

    • John Cate 11 months ago

      I think even the Yankees may have a limit as to how much salary and luxury tax they’re willing to take on. They just took Stephen Drew’s remaining contract from the Red Sox, less $500K. Probably figure they can do without Thornton.

    • Vandals Took The Handles 11 months ago

      Someone sure knows something.

      Left handed and breathing gets one a roster spot and at least $1M a year today.

  13. هذا الرجل رهيبة الكبير خليل 11 months ago

    Lindgren must be arriving soon

  14. driftcat28 11 months ago

    Not to happy about this. Thornton has been solid in the pen all season long and the pen as a whole has been the only real strong/consistent part of the team all season. This isnt the time for the yankees to be picking that apart.

  15. Timothy Rissland 11 months ago

    I find it hilarious this article describes Thornton as “excellent” looks like the writer just looked at his stats and didnt see many of his outtings. The guy was pretty terrible and allowed an insane amount of inherited runners to score. I’m shocked someone claimed him at all and not shocked the Yankees let him go for nothing. His salary will be nice to come off the books and there really wasn’t a spot for him next year with Lindgren surely at least to be the LOOGY. Luckily this will probably even force the Yankees to promote Lindgren and his 30/4 K/BB (in 13.1 pro innings) even sooner. He’s struck out 4 batters in one inning twice already this season. He pitched high leverage college games, there’s no way AAA players can be that far off from the best college players talent wise. He’s MLB ready now.

    • Baseball Legend 11 months ago

      Agreed. I think he even once said; I don’t really know how to pitch, but I just throw whatever I can up there. I may not be paraphrasing that perfectly, but that is in principal, what he meant. This was after the Yanks signed him too. I was like, good grief.

    • Vandals Took The Handles 11 months ago

      The difficult in evaluating trades using overall selected statistics is that they don’t reflect what the man has done, and what scouts project him to do in the future.

      There are at least 6 teams other than the Yankees in the AL fighting for either the division title or a WC. The fact that all of them passed on him is a head scratcher if we read the stats in the article. Just a few days ago there was a fight between 3-4 AL teams to get 2 months of left-handed throwing Andrew Miller.

    • Jeff_Todd_MLBTR 11 months ago

      No, sorry, I can’t watch 15 games a day. Fair to note inherited runners, though I’d still argue his solid peripherals tell more of a story than that.

      I probably overstated it in the heat of the moment, but the point stands that he’s been solid. I can buy that he’s expendable, but I must say it’s odd to hear people lauding the club for shedding salary here – a) it’s the Yankees! b) they signed him to the deal.

      • Timothy Rissland 11 months ago

        I understand that Jeff, and I didn’t mean any direct personal attack. But as most of Yankee fans know he wasn’t having a good season. Yankees fans had been hearing for years about the 2014 luxury tax plan so money got beaten into our brains unlike it being a non issue for the previous 20 or so years. Hell, even in the McCarthy, Headly and Drew trades ownership required some type of money compensation to return to the Yankees. Cashman already said he is using the money saved to pursue other opportunities. Jim Hendry was sent to watch the disaster start on Danks last night so perhaps the Sox and Yanks were only 4-5M apart in a deal and this is this difference? Thornton was also out of place in a great bullpen. Maybe I had such a negative attitude toward him because I trusted Warren, Kelley, Betances, and Robertson. You just felt like it was trouble if you saw Thornton in one of their spots.

        • Jeff_Todd_MLBTR 11 months ago

          Yeah, no worries, yesterday was stressful for me, ha.

  16. TRAPstar 11 months ago

    Can’t believe the Pirates passed on him. They were known to be looking for a Lefty

    • He’s rather expensive and Pittsburgh doesn’t appear to want to add payroll.

    • Ted 11 months ago

      Pittsburgh did not necessarily pass on him. The Nationals had a worse record last year and thus had higher waiver priority. Every AL team and every NL team except ATL and STL has a higher priority than Pittsburgh for a player put on waivers by an AL team.

      • TRAPstar 11 months ago

        The waivers process is by current record. Pittsburgh did pass on them

        • Ted 11 months ago

          Thanks, you’re correct. You’d think with all the August waiver posts that show up I would have picked up on that at some point!

  17. Adam D Valle 11 months ago

    I’m wondering if taking on all of Martin prados contract is making them do this move? Save some $$ for next year. Unless they have another move lined up right now? But the pen is the yankees strength so this is a little perplexing to say the least!

  18. Twisted86 11 months ago

    One of my favorite White Sox relievers of the past decade, there was a stretch around 2008-2010 when he would shut down batters at will and make it look easy.

  19. levendis 11 months ago

    Thank god, I no longer have to get a mini heart attack when he pitches. The guy has allowed 14 inherited runners to score this year, good for 2nd in baseball.

  20. Ray Ray 11 months ago

    I wonder if this is a legit claim or something similar to David DeJesus last year when they claimed him to block someone else from getting him and then got stuck.

  21. YankezFan 11 months ago

    Its funny that people comment on this board about a player they have never seen in the minors, saying he needs more time, cant jump to majors at age 20 – 21. Just wait until there is a decision about Lindgren, he has been very successful from a stats point of view, but how are his secondary pitches working, I think it may be a waste to keep him at single A Tampa, he will probably move quickly to AA/AAA and be with the Yankees at Sept. Getting outs in the minors does NOTHING for the Yankees on their run to the post season.

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