The Chicago White Sox may be offering Matt Thornton to teams interested in acquiring a reliever. However, the White Sox have another reliever who could attract attention from some teams. Will Ohman might even be easier for the White Sox to package.
Thornton has been on the trading blocks for months. The White Sox had offered him up around the time of the winter meetings in December. According to the Boston Globe, teams have continued to show interest in Thornton.
The 35-year-old reliever is due $5.5 million this year and $5.5 million next season.
According to MLB.com, Ohman, who is due only $2.5 million this year in the last year of his contract, could also be traded. Chris Sale's new role in the bullpen is said to be cause for another reliever to go on the block. Ohman's smaller contract and the fact that he has an expiring contract make him an easier player to trade.
Now, Thornton is undoubtedly the better pitcher. Thornton struck out 10 or more batters per nine innings three straight years (2008-10). In 2011, even though his strikeout rate went down, it was still 9.5 per nine innings. He has nice control, having allowed 2.5 walks per nine innings in 2008 and 2009 before allowing three per nine innings in 2010 and 3.2 per nine innings in 2011.
Thornton pitched 50 games and 50 innings seven straight years (2005-2011). His ERA has been 3.33 or lower in five of the last six seasons.
He started the 2012 season nicely, allowing one run across 11 innings in his first 12 appearances before allowing five in two innings in his last three games pitched. He's struck out 10 batters while walking just two.
With that, Thornton's been quite reliable for the White Sox since joining the team in 2006.
Ohman has been a wild card in his 10-year career. He's only had an ERA below 3.50 twice. He's only pitched 50 games six times. The 34-year-old has only pitched 50 innings in a season four times. 2011 was the first season in which he's had fewer than three walks per nine innings.
Also, it was the second time he's struck out more than nine batters per nine innings.
Through 11.1 innings pitched in 14 games thus far, Ohman has a 4.86 ERA, with four strikeouts and three walks.
Ohman isn't as valuable to teams as Thornton is, since Ohman is just a middle reliever and Thornton is a setup man.
However, as the aforementioned Boston Globe article notes, teams are slow to make offers for Thornton since he's seen as expensive. Also, committing to him for more than a year probably isn't pleasing, either.
Since Ohman is relatively inexpensive and is in the last year of his deal, he could be easier for the White Sox to trade. Also, teams would be more willing to trade for Ohman because Kenny Williams wouldn't demand as much for him. Williams might just ask for a low-level prospect or a reserve hitter.
Williams will surely be looking to unload payroll as trading time comes around in the summer, especially if the White Sox aren't competitive, as is expected. Any payroll relief would be welcome for Williams, and if Ohman goes before Thornton, it's just as well.