After losing Andrew Miller for the rest of the season to a foot injury, the Boston Red Sox reacted quickly on Saturday night, agreeing to send minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs to the White Sox for southpaw reliever Matt Thornton.
Thornton, 36, has been one of the more dominant relievers in the game since 2008, posting the third best wins above replacement total (9.1 fWAR). And while his fastball still grades out as above-average or better, it has slowly been in decline for the past several years, dropping from a career high 96.1 mph in 2010 to 94.2 mph this season.
By coincidence or not, Thornton’s strikeout rate, which was once among the best in the game, has witnessed a precipitous drop as well. The big left-hander has posted the two lowest K-rates of his career the since last season, averaging 7.34 K/9 and 6.75 K/9.
Still, though, he remains absolutely dominant against fellow lefties, allowing a triple-slash line of .173/.232/.385 this season.
Heading back to the south side of Chicago is Jacobs, 22, a former tenth round pick.
Jacobs, who was recently promoted to Double-A before the trade, has spent parts of three seasons in High-A, hitting a combined .249/.327/.422. He shows some overall offensive promise — solid-average walk rates, good power, and speed — but the on-field production has yet to match the potential. He looks like a serviceable fourth outfielder in the future.
Overall, this looks like a win for Boston, acquiring a much needed left arm in the bullpen for what should be minor league fodder.
Photo of Matt Thornton Courtesy of Bob Levey/Getty Images via the Boston Globe.