The New York Yankees have reportedly come to terms on a two-year deal with relief pitcher Matt Thornton.
According to Jack Curry of the YES Network, Thornton will make $7 million over the life of the contract.
Yankees have signed lefty reliever Matt Thornton to a 2-year deal. He will make $3.5 million each season.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 17, 2013
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman adds that Thornton will have to pass a physical:
confirmed, matt thornton has yankees deal. pending physical. @JackCurryYES had 1st— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 17, 2013
This move bolsters the Yankees bullpen with another veteran arm, although one that has noticeably declined in recent years.
As per Yankees beat writer Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal, Thornton has lost some zip on his fastball:
Newest Yankee Matt Thornton (per Jack Curry) used to sit 95-96 mph w/ fastball, touch 98/99. Still sits 94, touches 96, but K rate way down.— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) December 17, 2013
Jason Collette, a baseball writer for Fangraphs, Rotowire and other publications, pointed out that some of Thornton’s advanced stats look troubling:
Matt Thornton's swing & miss rate over last 4 seasons: 32%, 23%, 20%, 19%. Over last 2, has been in bottom 20th percentile for RP rate.— jasoncollette (@jasoncollette) December 17, 2013
Regardless, the Bronx Bombers needed some depth in the pen and have to be hoping that Thornton improves his game while playing in pinstripes.
The left-hander hit free agency after winning a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2013, although he wasn’t active for their postseason run.
He is the second player to defect from the current champions to their American League East rivals, joining center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who signed a massive seven-year, $153 million deal on Dec. 7. Manager Joe Girardi recently talked about the addition of Ellsbury, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
I think we’ve acquired a great player. We’ve seen the damage he can do against us. We firsthand witnessed how he can change a game. I’ve seen him hit home runs to beat us. I’ve seen him steal home to beat us. I’ve seen him do it all, make great catches. So we added a great player.
Prior to his short stint in Beantown, Thornton played most of his nine-year career with the Chicago White Sox. He was traded in July in exchange for outfield prospect Brandon Jacobs and cash considerations.
He broke into the majors back in 2004 as a member of the Seattle Mariners and pitched there until Chicago acquired him via trade in 2006.
Is this a good singing for the Yankees?
The 37-year-old compiled a 3.74 ERA with 30 strikeouts and a 1.43 WHIP in 60 appearances in 2013, 20 with the Red Sox and 40 with the White Sox.
It will be interesting to see if Girardi can find more use for Thornton than Red Sox skipper John Farrell could when the pressure was on.
He was regarded as a top left-handed reliever in all of baseball for much of the past decade and may be able to jump-start his career in the Big Apple.