Matt Thornton Rumors
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.
Yesterday we learned that the Yankees and Carlos Beltran are expected to have mutual interest in a union this offseason. Today, David Lennon of Newsday weighed the pros and cons of that for the Bombers and noted that acting quickly - as the Tigers did with Torii Hunter - could help their efforts. Here's a look at the latest from the AL and NL East..
- Braves catcher Brian McCann could receive $100MM in free agency, a GM tells Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. Marchand also notes that the Yankees feel that if Alex Rodriguez's PED suspension holds (meaning the Yankees would not have to pay his $25MM 2014 salary), they might be able to sign McCann in addition to Robinson Cano. McCann ranks fourth in Tim Dierkes' latest 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, and MLBTR predicts that McCann will receive a five-year, $80MM deal.
- Red Sox reliever Matt Thornton won't retire after the season, CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes reports. Boston has a $6MM option with a $1MM buyout on Thornton's services for 2014, but it looks unlikely they'll pick it up, given that they left him off their ALCS roster. "I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near being done in my career,” says Thornton. "I feel like I have plenty left in the tank physically." The Red Sox acquired Thornton from the White Sox for minor-leaguer Brandon Jacobs in mid-July, but he missed time down the stretch with a strained oblique and did not pitch much in September.
- Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues looks at the Yankees' upcoming 40-man roster crunch. At this moment, the Yankees have 47 players on their 40-man roster.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that there is growing resentment towards the one-game playoff. “I would like to see it changed to two of three,” said the Red Sox’ Jonny Gomes. “At least then you feel as if you lose, you had three games. I like the fact the two wild cards play, that part is fine, and I understand the drama of the one game, but it’s not fair. You see what’s happening now. These teams are fighting and clawing to get one of those two spots, then let the teams who make it have a fair chance to advance.” Here's more from Cafardo..
- Most industry sources believe the Dodgers won’t be interested in Robinson Cano, but Cafardo says that the Angels and Tigers are worth keeping an eye on. Cafardo also heard someone theorize that the Mets could pull a fast one and get in the mix for Cano. There's no evidence of that happening, but it would keep the star second baseman in his desired long-term location.
- There are still no signs that the Rangers will trade Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar this offseason, but dealing Ian Kinsler could be a legitimate option, with Andrus or Profar playing second base in 2014. However, the 31-year-old's contract is an issue as he has four years remaining at $57MM with an option for 2018. He's not having his sharpest season either, hitting .273/.340/.403 versus a line of .272/.350/.460 heading into 2013.
- Speaking of Texas, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Rangers re-sign Nelson Cruz despite the 50-game PED suspension. Cruz has been the missing cog in the Rangers’ recent slump and also happens to be popular in the clubhouse. Even with Alex Rios, Texas will still be in the market for a DH/outfielder this this winter and it could be as simple as re-signing Cruz.
- Alfredo Aceves is now home in Mexico after leaving Fort Myers, Florida and is unlikely to ever don a Red Sox uniform again. One American League GM blasted the pitcher for his behavior but said that he'll likely get another chance somewhere because of his talent.
- If Carlos Beltran does not re-sign with the Cardinals, Cafardo posits that he would be the ideal DH/occasional outfielder for the Orioles.
- Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta is “likely going to be someone’s third baseman” next season, one Detroit teammate said.
- Cafardo wonders if Cal Ripken could emerge as a candidate to replace Davey Johnson as manager of the Nationals. Of course, Ripken is tied to the local competition, but he has made it clear that he wants to be a skipper. Meanwhile, Buck Showalter is on solid footing with the Orioles and it would allow Ripken to stay in the area.
- Not a huge surprise, but Cafardo doesn't believe the Red Sox will exercise Matt Thornton's $6MM option for next season.
Here's today's look around baseball..
- Other teams passed on Matt Thornton because they felt that he hasn’t been throwing well and that the cost of acquiring him outweighed the possible reward, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). The cost for the Red Sox was giving up a 22-year-old minor league outfielder in Brandon Jacobs and taking on the remainder of Thornton's salary, less the $750K that came from the White Sox.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com sized up the trade market for Windy City outfielders Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rios. Recently, our own Steve Adams sized up the trade market for corner outfielders and center fielders as the deadline approaches.
- Teams are waiting on the Mariners, Phillies, and Giants to decide their strategy before the trade deadline as they all have "useful players", tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- The Rockies could conceivably go out-of-house to replace Todd Helton once he retires, but they have a couple of options to turn to in their farm system, writes Irv Moss of The Denver Post.
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.
The Red Sox bolstered their bullpen tonight when they acquired left-handed pitcher Matt Thornton from the White Sox in exchange for outfielder Brandon Jacobs. The White Sox also sent $750K out east to help take care of a portion of Thornton's salary.
Thornton, 36, is owed about $3.5MM over the remainder of the season. A fixture in the White Sox's bullpen since 2006, the lefty owns a 3.86 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 28 innings this year. In ten big league seasons, eight of which have been in Chicago, Thornton owns a career 3.53 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
Thornton's name has come up quite a bit on the pages of MLBTR as speculation has increased that the White Sox would look to sell at this year's deadline. The deal brings GM Rick Hahn a decent prospect while freeing them from the bulk of Thornton's remaining 2013 salary. For Boston, the veteran could theoretically be more than a rental as he has a $6MM club option with a modest $1MM buyout for 2014.
Jacobs, a 22-year-old outfielder, was recently promoted to Double-A Portland in the Red Sox's system after hitting .244/.334/.440 for the club's High A affiliate. Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook had him ranked at the 13th best prospect in the BoSox system coming into this season. According to BA, he had one of the more intriguing bats of anyone in the Red Sox farm system despite his dip in production from his breakout Low-A season in 2011 to his last two seasons in Advanced-A ball.
A source told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com (via Twitter) that the two clubs have been discussing a deal for Thornton, but talks picked up when Andrew Miller was ruled out for the season. Meanwhile, Hahn says that he had serious talks about the lefty with seven or eight clubs before pulling the trigger on this deal, tweets Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
The White Sox still have a number of key trade chips that could be moved, including Alex Rios, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom, and possibly Jake Peavy and Jesse Crain when they return to action. Crain figures to bring back the best return of any White Sox reliever if he can come back healthy in time.
Alex Speier of WEEI (on Twitter) reported the cash amount headed to the Red Sox in the deal. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
With the second-worst record in the American League and plenty of useful veterans, the White Sox are a clear seller this month. The team's prime trade chips are Alex Rios, Matt Thornton, Matt Lindstrom, and perhaps Jake Peavy and Jesse Crain when they return from the disabled list. It's less clear whether the Sox would consider trading Alexei Ramirez, Paul Konerko, John Danks, and Alejandro De Aza. The latest:
- "The bulk of our struggles this year have been on the offensive side. That's something we are going to have to improve," GM Rick Hahn told reporters yesterday, including Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Though Hahn wouldn't address trade rumors or the July 31st deadline, Gonzales takes this to mean Hahn will lean toward hitters in making deals this month. Hahn has dispatched scouts to evaluate prospects from the Braves, Blue Jays, Rangers, and Red Sox, writes Gonzales.
- The White Sox seek "high-end prospects" for Thornton, a source tells Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. The 36-year-old is having his worst year in recent memory, with a 4.00 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.33 HR/9, and 44.3% groundball rate in 27 innings. He's been better against left-handed hitters, though they've authored three of the four home runs he's surrendered. With a $6MM club option for 2014, Thornton can be more than a rental.
- Regarding the idea of trading ace Chris Sale, Jim Margalus of South Side Sox writes, "Hahn would pretty much have to get two stars back to justify it. Otherwise, it's getting way too cute." Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports notes today that a large contingent of scouts are watching Sale.
Let's take a look at the latest news and notes involving the American League East:
- The Red Sox are open to trade market upgrades in the bullpen and at third base, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- One name on Boston's list of bullpen trade targets is the White Sox's Matt Thornton, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com (Twitter link). The Braves also have "limited" interest in the left-hander.
- Josh Johnson, set to become a free agent at the end of the season, has seen injury and poor performance affect his value to the point where it is difficult to see the Blue Jays pursue a multi-year deal with him, writes the Toronto Star's Richard Griffin. Johnson may be forced to accept a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, assuming he receives one, to rebuild his value for 2014, opines Griffin.
- The Phillies' Michael Young and Carlos Ruiz both could be on the Yankees' radar as they have a scout in Philadelphia today, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.
- The recently-released Miguel Olivo is not on the Yankees' radar, but first baseman Russ Canzler, who was designated for assignment yesterday, might pique their curiosity, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
- Earlier today, the Yankees added first base depth by claiming Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. O's Executive Vice President Dan Duquette told reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, he acquired Eric Thames from the Mariners last week knowing he could lose Ishikawa to another team.
Here are a few trade notes from around the American League:
- As we approach the trade deadline with the Mariners looking more like sellers than buyers, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times took a look back at GM Jack Zduriencik's recent history at the deadline. Beginning with an ill-fated swap of a young Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans and featuring the retrospectively painful Doug Fister deal, the net return to Seattle has not been terribly productive.
- This year, the Mariners could be in a position to deal some relievers. Last night, we took a look at FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal's breakdown of potentially available NL relievers. Tonight, let's look at the AL crop. From the M's, Rosenthal says that veteran lefty Oliver Perez is the most likely to be dealt, with Charlie Furbush and Tom Wilhelmsen also prime candidates. The latter two, however, will likely command a high price given that Furbush may just be reaching arbitration after this season as a Super Two, while Wilhelmsen will not reach arbitration until after the 2014 campaign.
- Rosenthal also pegs the White Sox and Astros as sellers with attractive bullpen pieces. Chicago could swing a trade for stud reliever Jesse Crain if he can return in time to prove his health; otherwise, both Matt Thornton and Matt Lindstrom could hold some appeal. (Both of the latter two pitchers come with club options for 2014.) For Houston, meanwhile, the prime trade chip among its relief corps is unquestionably closer Jose Veras, who is cheap, strikes out a lot of hitters, and has been solid in late-inning work this year.
- One other team that should look to the future, according to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, is the Blue Jays. With the club again fading after its recent resurgence, Morosi says Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos faces a "virtually impossible" task to right the ship before the trade deadline. Rather than selling out for this season, says Morosi, the Jays should look to shore up the team's rotation to make a run in 2014 and 2015.
- Sticking with the Jays, Morosi says that Josh Johnson -- occasionally noted as a potential trade candidate earlier in the year -- has been "perhaps the team's greatest disappointment this year." Johnson currently carries a 4.89 ERA in 53 1/3 innings; his walk rate is below his career average at 3.4 BB/9, though he is striking batters out at a strong 9.1 K/9 clip. At this point, Morosi suggests, Toronto may be best served by shipping Johnson back to the National League rather than looking to try and bring him back next year.
We heard last week that the White Sox had begun to receive calls on their veteran players. Now, rival executives tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the ChiSox are "open for business" and willing to discuss anyone on their roster with the exception of Chris Sale and Paul Konerko.
That means that even John Danks, who just last year signed a five-year, $65MM extension with the Sox, could be had in the right deal. The team also has desirable trade chips like Alex Rios, Alexei Ramirez, Jesse Crain, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Thornton and Jake Peavy (though he's currently on the DL). Heyman also adds that Jeff Keppinger's name has already come up in conversations, despite the fact that he signed a three-year deal just this past offseason.
Not surprisingly, one executive told Heyman that Adam Dunn will be difficult to move. Dunn is owed $15MM in 2014 and is hitting .194/.303/.460 this season. Another said that Peavy will be tough to find a match for as well. The White Sox will have a high asking price on their co-ace, but teams won't have much time to determine if he's truly healthy.
Another executive told Heyman that the Mets could look at Ramirez as a potential long-term option at shortstop. While he's not hitting for power anymore, Ramirez is batting .280/.308/.345 with 18 stolen bases and outstanding defense, according to advanced metrics like UZR and DRS. He's owed $10MM in 2014 and has a $10MM club option for 2015 on his contract as well.