The Red Sox have officially activated right-hander Tyler Thornburg, marking his first appearance on the club’s active roster. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted last night that the move was set to be made and the club announced it this morning.
Now 29, Thornburg came over from the Brewers in a Winter Meetings swap in advance of the 2017 campaign. The package delivered third baseman Travis Shaw and prospects Mauricio Dubon, Josh Pennington and Yeison Coca to Milwaukee.
At the time, MLBTR contributor Burke Badenhop — who had once been traded between these same teams — interviewed Thornburg to discuss the move and give him a taste of what to expect. Unfortunately, the anticipated appearances at Fenway Park never took place in the season that followed.
Thornburg came down with somewhat mysterious shoulder troubles during the offseason and ultimately underwent a procedure to address thoracic outlet syndrome in July of 2017. He has been working back ever since.
Despite the uncertainty, the Red Sox staked an additional bet on Thornburg over the winter by tendering him arbitration. He’s earning $2.05MM, a repeat of his 2017 salary, and can be controlled for one more campaign through the arb process.
Thornburg’s first appearances with the Boston organization came on his just-completed rehab assignment. In 16 1/3 total upper-minors innings this year, he owns a 4.96 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. As those numbers might hint, reports on Thornburg have wavered a bit, suggesting he may still be settling in after a long layoff.
It’s hard to know what to expect at this point, certainly, but Thornburg was quite impressive in his most recent MLB season — a breakout 2016 effort. Sitting at 94 and getting whiffs on about a dozen out of every hundred pitches, he turned in 67 frames of 2.15 ERA ball with 12.1 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 along with a 32.4 percent ground-ball rate.
Now, Thornburg will be trying to reestablish himself at the game’s highest level. The Red Sox, meanwhile, will be watching closely to see if he’s capable of fulfilling an important role down the stretch, perhaps reducing the need for any outside additions to the team’s array of right-handed setup options.