The New York Yankees signed Brian Roberts earlier today pending a physical to replace Robinson Cano, at least on some level, and have now replaced Boone Logan with Matt Thornton. Thornton, 37, comes over on a two-year, $7 million deal as reported by Jack Curry on Twitter.
Thornton held left-handed hitters to a .235/.267/.370 slash line in 89 plate appearances last season with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. He also had a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate which is phenomenal.
Thornton was one of baseball’s best set-up men a few years ago with the White Sox. However, a declining fastball, it still sits between 92-95, will probably relegate him to being a left-specialist moving forward but he is still capable of getting right-handers out as well if needed.
Thornton has been a relatively durable pitcher over the years. He did, however, suffer an abdominal strain last season and in 2010 had some forearm soreness which usually results in Tommy John surgery but Thornton avoided going under the knife.
The Yankees’ bullpen is in a state of flux after Mariano Rivera retired and Joba Chamberlain and Logan left in free agency. With David Robertson likely taking over the closer’s role, the Yankees will need to replace Robertson in the late innings. Shawn Kelley will likely take over Robertson’s role as the primary set-up man, at least from what is on the roster, but the middle innings are in need of beefing up.
The Yankees are far from finished in remaking their bullpen. The team has been linked in recent days to Joaquin Benoit and Jesse Crain, both of whom would bolster the bullpen. There are also young arms like Chase Whitley, Preston Claiborne, Adam Warren, David Phelps, Mark Montgomery and a few others who could contribute out of the pen.
Thornton is a nice addition but he is not a set-up man anymore. He should replace Boone Logan but at this point in his career he shouldn’t be counted on for much more than that.