Results tagged ‘ Matt Thornton ’

12/17 Roundup

The pool of potential closers available on the free-agent market shrank on Tuesday, when the Hot Stove was focused on relief pitching.

The Orioles were on the hunt for a closer after trading Jim Johnson to the A’s earlier this offseason, and they now appear set to use some of the savings from that deal on Oakland’s former closer. Grant Balfour, who saved 38 games for the A’s in 2013, reportedly is in agreement on a two-year contract with Baltimore.

The Cubs also might have snatched up a new ninth-inning man after reaching a reported one-year pact with Jose Veras. That would leave Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez among a dwindling group of free agents with recent success as closers. The Padres appear to be targeting Benoit for an eighth-inning role in front of Huston Street.

In other news from around the league:

  • Highly touted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has informed his Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, that he wants to be made available to Major League teams. But even with NPB and MLB having a new posting agreement in place, the Eagles do not have to post Tanaka, and it appears they might be reluctant to do so.
  • One club that figures to pursue Tanaka if he becomes available is Arizona, which is looking to add more starting pitching this offseason.
  • The Yankees are close to signing a pair of veteran players, reportedly reaching an agreement on a one-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts and a two-year contract with left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Meanwhile, New York still would like to add free agent Mark Reynolds but is facing competition from the Angels and Twins, among others, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network. Jeff Baker is another veteran bat drawing interest from the club, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Braves’ search for additional starting pitching likely concluded with Monday’s signing of Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, despite the fact that the righty won’t be ready until May as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Atlanta had explored trades for the likes of the Rays’ David Price and the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija but found the asking prices too steep.
  • Our Tom Singer checks in on free-agent righty A.J. Burnett, who has yet to make a decision about whether to retire, return to the Pirates or perhaps pitch for another team. It’s a delay that is making things difficult for Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington.
  • After losing out on Juan Uribe, the Marlins continue to search for a third baseman. The club is looking at both free agents and trade possibilities.
  • The Mets’ top priority is to trade one of its first basemen, Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. The Brewers and Pirates are the two remaining clubs that seem like obvious trade partners for such a deal. Pittsburgh is interested in both Davis and the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, according to Heyman.
  • The Cardinals’ recent signing of free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis likely will turn out to be their last significant move of the offseason, as GM John Mozeliak acknowledged on Tuesday.
  • On the other hand, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said his club still is looking hard at free agents, with the bullpen one area to address. Houston already has signed relievers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.

– Andrew Simon

11/2 Roundup

With the deadline for exercising or declining options looming at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, teams continued to make those decisions on Saturday. Below is a recap of those moves, plus news on the Mariners’ managerial search and more.

  •  The Rays will bring back their same middle infield in 2014 after picking up options on second baseman Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar. However, they still must decide whether to do the same for outfielder David DeJesus and reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo.
  • The Red Sox declined a team option on reliever Matt Thornton, while two of the team’s free agents — first baseman Mike Napoli and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia — would like to return. In other news, second baseman Dustin Pedroia soon will undergo surgery on his left thumb after playing the whole season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.
  • Joey Cora is among a handful of finalists to become the Mariners’ new manager.
  • Roger McDowell will return as pitching coach of the Braves after signing a new two-year deal.
  • As expected, the Giants declined their option on pitcher Barry Zito, according to the MLB Players Association. Zito becomes a free agent after completing his seven-year contract with San Francisco, which also declined an option on outfielder Andres Torres.
  • Also per the MLBPA, the Orioles declined their option on lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who underwent Tommy John surgery after signing a two-year deal before the 2012 season and never appeared in a game for Baltimore.

– Andrew Simon

Red Sox add left-hander Thornton to bullpen

The Red Sox addressed their need for a left-handed relief pitcher on Friday night, swinging a deal with the White Sox for veteran Matt Thornton. Chicago also sent Boston cash considerations in exchange for Minor League outfielder Brandon Jacobs.

Thornton is 0-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 40 appearances for the White Sox this season. The 36-year-old has struck out 21 and walked 10 over 28 innings, holding left-handed batters to a .173 average (9-for-52).

Since 2008, Thornton leads all Major League left-handed relievers with 382 strikeouts. In eight seasons with the White Sox, the 2010 AL All-Star compiled a 3.28 ERA.

Thornton is making $5.5 million this season, the last of a two-year deal that includes a $6 million team option for 2014, with a $1 million buyout.

Jacobs was Boston’s 10th-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. The 23-year-old has split this season between Class A-Advanced Salem and Double-A Portland, batting .246 with 24 doubles, 11 home runs and 44 RBIs. He was ranked as the organization’s No. 11 prospect by MLB.com

– Andrew Simon

Williams still working to strengthen White Sox

When Ken Williams was asked during Sunday’s conference call as to whether more White Sox trades were possible before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. CT non-waiver deadline, the team’s general manager answered with one word.

“Yes,” Williams said.

That reply was followed by silence, a sort of dramatic pause.

Williams already has done major work on a White Sox team that surprised people even without the new additions. But when third baseman Brent Morel developed back issues and veteran Orlando Hudson wasn’t a fit at a position where he previously never had played, Williams went out and acquired Kevin Youkilis from Boston on June 24.

When he needed a veteran reliever to help his youthful bullpen, Williams picked up Brett Myers from Houston. And when the White Sox needed another quality, frontline starter to also help lessen the workload on young rotation members such as Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, Williams added Francisco Liriano Saturday night from the Twins. Utility infielder Eduardo Escobar appeared to be the only player given up in these three deals combined who still figured prominently in the White Sox future.

So, what’s left for Williams and the White Sox?

He still could add to the bench, with Rey Olmedo taking Escobar’s place as utility infielder and rookie Jordan Danks serving as the extra outfielder. Williams also could pursue another left-handed reliever to complete a veteran southpaw tandem with Matt Thornton.

Then again, where Williams and pushing toward the ultimate prize of winning a World Series is concerned, no trade, big or small, becomes unexpected at this time of year.

“You plot out a course and go down that course and try to take action,” Williams said. “If you lose out on one, turn the page and move on to the next.”

Scott Merkin

Rasmus could be on White Sox radar

According to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, trade talks between the White Sox and Cardinals centering on left-handed hitting outfielder Colby Rasmus have “accelerated” in recent days.

The report talked about right-handed starter Edwin Jackson, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season, or left-handed reliever Matt Thornton as potential St. Louis targets. Jackson could be moved without weakening the current rotation, as the White Sox are working with six quality starters, despite Philip Humber’s brief move to the bullpen.

Thornton agreed to a two-year, $12-million extension, with a 2014 club option, during Spring Training. The White Sox have three lefties in the bullpen, with Thornton, Chris Sale and Will Ohman, and were impressed with the work turned in by southpaw Hector Santiago during his short 2011 Major League stint. They already are loaded in the outfield, though, as shown by the lack of room to promote hot-hitting Dayan Viciedo from Triple-A Charlotte.

Adding a talent such as the 24-year-old Rasmus would not lessen the White Sox pursuit in a very winnable American League Central but also could help fortify their future base.

When asked for comment Sunday about the matter, general manager Ken Williams told MLB.com via e-mail he will be available to chat on Monday after Ozzie Guillen’s pregame press session. Jackson, who earned the win in Sunday’s 4-2 victory over the Indians, already had heard the rumor but took the trade rumblings in stride.

“My name is in trade rumors every year,” said Jackson, who has been traded four times. “It’s been like this for the last five years. It’s definitely nothing I worry about. I can’t control it. I just want to play wherever I’m wanted to play.”

The Cardinals know that even in a down year, Rasmus has significant value, and it’s difficult to envision them moving just to move him. His challenges in adjusting to the pressures of being the most hailed Cardinals prospect in ages are well-covered, but even so, he’s a young, high-ceiling, cost-controlled player at a premium position that has value.

Thus, while St. Louis is surely listening on Rasmus, actively shopping him is a separate question. And in any deal where Rasmus was moved, it’s hard to imagine the Cards wouldn’t get more than a rental starting pitcher. They would almost certainly need to get some kind of significant prospect or young, team-controlled player who could be a solution somewhere for a few years.

Still, Rasmus’ playing time has diminished as a result of his slump, and the Cardinals appear more and more comfortable with Jon Jay in center field. They also have Allen Craig on the mend from a knee injury, and though Craig is certainly not a center fielder, he would replenish the team’s outfield depth in the event of a move.

– Matthew Leach and Scott Merkin

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 696 other followers