Tuesday, December 17, 2013

BREAKING: Yanks Sign Lefty Reliever Matt Thornton

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

Well there's some unexpected bullpen help.  As first reported by Jack Curry, the Yankees have agreed to a 2-year/$7 million deal with lefty specialist Matt Thornton.  The deal is pending a physical of course, and should he pass it Thornton will replace Boone Logan as the team's primary LOOGY out of the 'pen in 2014.

Thornton, 37, was one of if not THE premiere lefty specialist in baseball as recently as 2011 with the White Sox.  He struggled for them early last year before being dealt to the Red Sox at the trade deadline and performing much better.  Overall he pitched to a 3.74/4.04/4.13 slash line in 43.1 IP in 2013 with a .280 wOBA against from left-handed hitters.  For his career lefties have hit .229/.296/.350 against him in 249.2 IP.

Thornton comes with a pretty fair amount of risk as an older reliever.  His K rate has decreased every year since 2010, from 33.9% then to just 16.0% this past season.  That's partially due to his increased ineffectiveness against righties, but as a LOOGY he should still be above-average and he comes at a much more team-friendly cost than Logan would have.  At the very least, it's an early-season upgrade over Cesar Cabral if Thornton can maintain his effectiveness against same-side hitters.

P.S.- For shits and giggles, here's my anti-Thornton rant from the 2011 offseason.  At that time it didn't make a lot of sense to trade away prospects for a guy with $12 million still owed to him.  Today, for just $7 mil and no prospects, it's a much better deal.

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