The Boston Red Sox have had a clear hole in the back of their rotation and struggled in the ninth inning this year, but Friday they pull off a trade that was as big a need as any.
Andrew Miller went down this week with an ankle injury while the Red Sox were in Anaheim, creating a dire need for a quality left-handed reliever. Friday, the Red Sox addressed this need acquiring Matt Thornton from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for AA outfielder Brandon Jacobs.
Jacobs was called up to AA just a day before being traded to the White Sox. He has real power potential, but just an average hit tool. While he may someday become a big league player, he likely won’t stick long term and his defensive skills will limit him to just a left field option.
Thornton is past his prime, given that he is now 36, but he has closing experience and can be a very effective lefty specialist. Ben Cherrington even referenced the fact that Thornton is getting older stating that while he may no longer have elite stuff, he still has very good stuff. He does have the most strikeouts of any lefty reliever in baseball over the past five seasons, and is still a 2-1 strikeout to walk ratio this season.
The White Sox also send the Red Sox $750k to go towards the $3.5 million left on Thornton’s contract, which includes a $1 million buyout for next season. If Koji Uehara can remain effective as the team’s closer, and Andrew Bailey continues his good form, then the addition of Thornton will make the Red Sox bullpen a strength moving forward.