The Boston Red Sox have agreed on a one-year deal with reliever Tyler Thornburg to avoid arbitration while tendering offers to other eligible players.
The bullpen continues to take shape as the Boston Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg to avoid arbitration.
NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich reports it’s a one-year, $1.75 million deal with $400,000 in potential bonuses based on appearances.
The salary is a bit of a step back for Thornburg, who made $2.05 million in each of the last two seasons. However, the deal offers the chance to earn more than he has before in any season of his career if he stays healthy enough to hit the bonus thresholds. Thornburg was a potential non-tender candidate so agreeing to a team-friendly deal may have been his only chance to stick with the organization.
The 30-year old has been a complete bust since being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in a regrettable trade that cost the Red Sox emerging slugger Travis Shaw. Thornburg missed the entire 2017 season plus the first few months this year while recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome.
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When he finally returned, Thornburg posted a disappointing 5.63 ERA in 24 innings before he was shut down in mid-September to get a head start on his offseason program. His strikeout rate declined to a troubling 7.9 K/9 and his 3.8 BB/9 remains a concern.
His production with the Red Sox is a far cry from the dominant closer we saw in Milwaukee a few years ago but there’s hope he can regain some semblance of his former self now that he’s healthy enough to follow a proper offseason routine.
The non-guaranteed deal is a low-risk scenario. Boston can evaluate Thornburg in spring training and release him for nothing if he doesn’t make the Opening Day 40-man roster. If he proves that he’s back to being the pitcher the Red Sox thought they were trading for, an uncertain bullpen gets an upgrade at a bargain cost. With Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly potentially bolting in free agency, Boston can’t afford not to take a chance on Thornburg when there’s very little risk.
If nothing else, the front office is hoping to get something out of him to salvage what has been deemed the worst decision under Dave Dombrowski’s reign.
The Red Sox have also tendered offers to all 29 unsigned players on the 40-man roster, including the 11 other arbitration eligible players. January 11 is the deadline to exchange salary arbitration figures and the Red Sox will hope to sign each of them by that point to avoid an arbitration hearing.