Matt Thornton Rumors
A few notes from around MLB's Central divisions, where the Indians and Cardinals will enter first place entering Sunday's action ...
- The White Sox could look to trade one of their four left-hander relievers if they fall out of contention later in the season, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com, particularly Matt Thornton and/or Will Ohman. Thornton's contract calls for a $5.5MM salary in 2013 and includes a $6MM club option for 2014, while Ohman is a free agent at season's end.
- Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan is becoming a likelier trade candidate with so many relievers suffering injuries, writes Tom Singer of MLB.com. Hanrahan, for his part, is aware of the possibility but hopes to remain in Pittsburgh, mentioning the Bucs' decision not to sell off players at last year's deadline. The right-hander is slated to become a free agent after 2013.
- The Indians seriously scouted Yoenis Cespedes but were never close to signing the outfielder, who eventually inked with the A's, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
- In an interesting piece for the New York Times, Tyler Kepner writes how Reds shortstop prospect Billy Hamilton's blazing speed is indicative of a trend in scouting and player development. With run production declining, speed is once again highly valued. Said Bill Bavasi, Cincinnati's vice president for scouting and player development: "We’re seeing the game go through a renaissance right now. We’re going to see some different bodies playing the game, and a premium is going to be placed on speed, on range and on doing all the little skills that were so important in baseball ..."
Most general managers prefer not to rush trades for bullpen help early in the season because relievers are so volatile, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. Olney takes a look at some relievers off to hot starts in his latest Insider-only column. Here are some highlights:
- Blue Jays left-hander Luis Perez has impressed an AL executive after striking out 14 in 12 2/3 scoreless innings to start the season. "He could be a starting pitcher, but to me, he's as good a left-handed reliever as there is in the American League right now," the person said.
- Olney points out that left-hander Matt Thornton is pitching well and notes that the White Sox tried to trade him at last year’s trade deadline and again over the winter.
- MLB executives have told Olney that they aren’t interested in acquiring Brandon Inge because he doesn’t contribute at the plate anymore.
- Olney wonders when the Mets will be able to spend like a large market team and says manager Terry Collins “has done a terrific job” with the current roster.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks every manager in the majors, one through 30. Cafardo's top five skippers in the game for 2012 are Joe Maddon (Rays), Jim Leyland (Tigers), Mike Scioscia (Angels), Charlie Manuel (Phillies), and Joe Girardi (Yankees). Here's more from Cafardo..
- While the Mets were considering releasing right-hander Mike Pelfrey, they likely won’t do that because there should be a trade market for the veteran. The 28-year-old makes $5.6MM on a non-guaranteed deal and the Mets may be able to get something from a club looking for a back-end starter.
- White Sox left-hander Matt Thornton is a player who always draws interest, though other clubs wish he didn’t make $12MM over the next two years. With Hector Santiago and Will Ohman on the team, the closer could again be trade bait.
- The Cubs may eat some money to move outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is scheduled to earn $6.5MM this season. They may have suitors in the Braves, Phillies, and others. A National League scout indicated that Byrd’s name is being mentioned more and more as the end of spring training approaches.
- Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg is available as the O's try to rid themselves of extraneous players and save money. Gregg makes $5.6MM this year, and the Orioles don’t want his 2013 contract to kick in at $6MM if he finishes 50 games in 2012.
- Cafardo expects long-term extension talks between Cole Hamels and the Phillies to move slowly.
- One American League owner said of the Padres, "They’re probably a half-billion to $700MM purchase. And I don’t believe that many, or any, of the finalists for the Dodgers would be interested."
1:53pm: This rumor is bogus, tweets O'Brien.
1:37pm: A potential trade of White Sox lefty reliever Matt Thornton to the Braves is picking up steam, tweets Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. However, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says this one's not happening.
Thornton, 35, posted a 3.32 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.45 HR/9, and 48.8% groundball rate in 59 2/3 innings for the White Sox this year. He's owed $12MM through 2013 on an extension signed in March. It's unclear whether Sox GM Kenny Williams would further deplete his bullpen depth after trading Sergio Santos to Toronto today, but relievers generally aren't crucial to a rebuilding effort.
The White Sox have been looking to trade Matt Thornton since July and are still trying to move him, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Before the 2011 season, the White Sox signed the left-hander to a two-year, $12MM extension that covers the 2012-13 seasons and includes a club option for 2014.
The 35-year-old posted a 3.32 ERA with 9.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.45 HR/9 and a 48.8% ground ball rate in 59 2/3 innings this past season. Armed with a fastball that averages 96 mph, Thornton figures to draw interest this offseason, as he did last summer, especially since the free agent market doesn't feature lefty relievers of his caliber. The Yankees, Blue Jays and Rangers are among the teams that may seek left-handed relief this offseason.
The waiver wire is heating up with one week remaining for teams to trade for postseason reinforcements. Here’s a refresher on how August trades work and here are the latest rumors...
- The Indians placed a claim on Jim Thome, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). However, the White Sox, who have a worse record than Cleveland, also placed a claim, so they would have priority over the Indians.
- It appears unlikely that the Giants, who won the claim on Heath Bell, will complete a trade for the reliever, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports (on Twitter).
- Though the Padres would find if difficult to accept a weak offer for Bell, it might beat the alternative of keeping him and potentially paying him big money in 2012, Ken Rosenthal writes at FOX Sports.
- The White Sox placed John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko and Matt Thornton on waivers, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
- The Giants are a fit for the recently waived Ramon Hernandez, but the catcher will likely be a Type A free agent so a different team could claim him for draft picks, ESPN.com's Buster Olney notes (on Twitter).
- Hoynes suggests the Indians likely claimed one of Thome and Jason Kubel (Twitter link). Unknown teams claimed both Twins sluggers this week.
- The Rockies were one of the teams that put in a claim on David Wright this month, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Though it's unclear which team won the claim, it probably doesn't matter at the moment, since the Mets aren't trading their third baseman. As Renck points out, it's a reminder that the Rockies will be interested if the Mets ever make Wright available.
The American League Central welcomed a handful of new players this week - most notably right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. Yet many other trades didn't materialize. Here are the details on some deals that could have impacted the division...
- The Tigers tried to acquire Tommy Hunter from the Rangers before the Orioles obtained him in the Koji Uehara deal yesterday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Tigers did acquire Doug Fister for their rotation.
- The Brewers called on every good left-handed relief option out there, including White Sox southpaw Matt Thornton, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- The Twins talked to the Blue Jays about re-acquiring Jon Rauch, but talks went nowhere, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- The Indians discussed as many as 75 players leading up to the deadline, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (on Twitter).
Left-handed reliever Matt Thornton has a 3.28 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 0.50 HR/9, and 47.3% groundball rate in 35 2/3 innings this season for the White Sox, which is only a down year by his lofty standards. Thornton signed a three-year extension in March. He has $1MM remaining this year, $5.5MM in 2012, $5.5MM in '13, and a $6MM club option or $1MM buyout for '14. That's a total of $13MM guaranteed through 2013 for the hard-throwing 34-year-old. The latest rumors:
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that another deal is highly unlikely (Twitter link).
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post senses that the White Sox have really fallen out of love with Thornton and would love to move his contract (Twitter link). He says the Yankees are watching Thornton.
- The Diamondbacks would love to acquire Thornton but it can't happen given Chicago's demand of top prospects, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
- The Red Sox are pushing hard for Thornton and right fielder Carlos Quentin, tweets USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
- Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Rangers are pursuing Thornton, but would only be open to Chicago's request of Derek Holland if the Sox include a starter such as John Danks.
2:11pm: The White Sox are telling teams Danks is not available, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. It seems that Rosenthal threw his name out there as more of an example, anyway.
11:19am: The Rangers are pursuing White Sox reliever Matt Thornton, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and the Sox want starter Derek Holland in return. He adds that the Rangers would only move Holland for Thornton if the White Sox expanded the deal to include a starter such as John Danks. That'd make for an interesting story, with Sox GM Kenny Williams having stolen Danks from the Rangers in '06 for Brandon McCarthy.
Holland, a 24-year-old southpaw, is under team control through 2015. Danks, meanwhile, is a free agent after the 2012 season. Thornton will be signed through '14 if his club option is exercised.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post senses that the White Sox "have really fallen out love with Thornton, and would love move the $13MM he is owed for 2012-13." He says the Yankees have been watching the lefty.