The New York Yankees officially reached an agreement with lefty reliever Matt Thornton Friday afternoon.
Jack Curry of the YES Network first reported the agreement, which is for two years and $7 million, on December 17.
With the retirement of closer Mariano Rivera and the departure of both Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan in free agency, the Yankees were left short-handed in the bullpen.
There is speculation that right-handed setup man David Robertson will step into the closer role in 2014 for the Yankees. While it is not clear who the new setup man will be, the Yankees will have another reliable reliever in Thornton.
According to the Yankees depth chart, the two most experienced relievers after Robertson are Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne. Kelley has pitched in 177 total major league games in his career, while Claiborne has pitched in just 44.
With Thornton’s experience and mastery of left-handed batters, the Yankees will have a go-to guy in their bullpen for the late innings of ballgames.
Thornton is the only major leaguer to make at least 55 appearances in each of the last nine seasons.
Thornton has also proven to be a reliable reliever every season since he came up in 2004.
While his ERA has been on the rise over the last three seasons, he continues to be dominant against left-handed batters, who owned a .235 batting average against him last season.
Pitching has become the main focus for the Yankees to improve on before the season begins. The organization has already bolstered its lineup with the acquisitions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran earlier in the offseason.
While the Yankees are preparing to meet with starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, general manager Brian Cashman still needs to be aware of the lack of experienced arms in the bullpen.
The signing of Thornton Friday is the first step toward revamping the bullpen that was so strong for the Yankees last season.
*Statistics Courtesy of Baseball Reference