Last night the Red Sox made their first move of the trade deadline season. They acquired left handed reliever Matt Thornton and $750,000 from the Chicago White Sox for minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs. Thornton was acquired to plug the hole in the bullpen left by the injury to Andrew Miller. Knuckleballer Steven Wright was optioned to Pawtucket and Andrew Miller was transferred to the 60 day DL to make room for Thornton on the 25 and 40 man rosters.
The immediate impact of the move is that it improves the bullpen. Over the past several years Thornton has been a force in the White Sox’s pen, being able to shut down whoever he faced, righty or lefty. In eight seasons with the White Sox he’s posted a 3.28 ERA and a 1.196 WHIP. However, this year righties have figure him out batting .314 off him with a .414 OBP, but he’s been as good as ever against lefties. They’re only batting .170 off of him with an OBP of .232. The only oddity in his numbers is that 3 of the home runs he’s given up have been to left handed batters, which has played a part in the fact that they are slugging .385 off him. Regardless, despite his declining stuff he can still get lefties out. He should end up being a valuable part of the pen and will hopefully add some consistency to this otherwise volatile pen. Also the cash is likely to help the Sox pay Thornton’s $1,000,000 buyout for next year, because the Sox are unlikely to pick up the $6,00,000 option for 2014.
With every trade you have to give something to get something. That something happened to be Brandon Jacobs, a minor league outfielder who was promoted to Portland just a few days prior to the trade. Jacobs, according to Sox Prospects, was once the 8th ranked prospect is the Red Sox system, but he had struggled the past year and a half in Salem and fallen to 36th and was also rated the most disappointing Red Sox prospect by Baseball America. He showed good power, hitting 13 home runs last year and 11 so far this year, but struggled batting for average . He was hitting just .244 when he was called up to Portland. He was tremendous upside because he’s a 5 tool player, but putting all together has been an issue. The reason he was so expendable, was because he is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this off-season and was unlikely to be added to the 40 man roster to protect him from other teams. All in all he’s a great prospect, but he was an expendable piece.
All in all, it appears to be a great trade for the Sox. They filled their biggest need, and only lost a guy who they were likely to lose next off-season anyways. Thornton is said to be a high character guy and should fit right in with the club. This could be the biggest move the Sox make this month.