The Red Sox announced that they’ve avoided arbitration with right-hander Tyler Thornburg by agreeing to a one-year deal for the 2018 season. Terms of the contract weren’t disclosed, though Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal reports (via Twitter) that Thornburg will be paid $2.05MM. That matches the rate at which he was paid in 2017, which is common for arbitration-eligible players who miss an entire season due to injury, as was the case with Thornburg in 2017 (thoracic outlet syndrome).
Thornburg, 29 was Boston’s biggest bullpen acquisition last winter but was unable to take the mound due to shoulder issues that eventually led to his TOS diagnosis and subsequent surgery. Thus far, it’s been a particularly painful trade for the Sox, who sent Travis Shaw and prospects Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington to Milwaukee to acquire Thornburg’s three arbitration seasons.
The Sox still have time to extract some value from the contract if Thornburg is healthy, of course. He was a wipeout reliever for the Brewers back in 2016, tossing 67 innings of 2.15 ERA ball with 12.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 0.81 HR/9 with a fastball that averaged just over 94 mph. If he’s able to approximate that level of performance, Thornburg would deepen Boston’s setup corps and help to fortify the bridge to Craig Kimbrel at the end of the game. He’ll be joined by Carson Smith, Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes as right-handed setup options for rookie manager Alex Cora.
With Thornburg’s case out of the way, the Sox still have a hefty 12 players eligible for arbitration. Kelly, Smith, Mookie Betts, Drew Pomeranz, Xander Bogaerts, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley, Sandy Leon, Steven Wright, Brandon Workman, Christian Vazquez and Eduardo Rodriguez are all eligible for arbitration this winter as well.