The Boston Red Sox have turned down reliever Matt Thornton's $6 million club option for 2014, the newly crowned champs announced. The 37-year-old left-hander will receive a $1 million buyout and become a free agent next week.
The move comes just months after the Red Sox acquired Thornton in a deadline deal with the Chicago White Sox. In exchange for the long-time set-up man, the Red Sox sent outfield prospect Brandon Jacobs to Chicago.
An All-Star in 2010, Thornton is a 10-year big league veteran, first surfacing in the majors with Seattle in 2004. After spending two anonymous years with the Mariners, the 1998 first round pick was traded to Chicago for outfielder Joe Borchard. Thornton blossomed at the back of the White Sox' bullpen, posting an ERA of 3.25 with well over a strikeout per inning from 2006-2012. His three year stretch from 2008-2010 was particularly dominant as he put up a 2.70 ERA (69% above league average) while striking out 245 batters in just over 200 innings.
Thornton's performance dipped in 2013, but he was still a useful bullpen arm, with his 3.74 ERA being 14% above league average. In 15.1 innings following his trade to Boston, he had an ERA of 3.52. Thornton didn't appear in any postseason games for the Red Sox this year, as he was left off the team's playoff roster.
As stated yesterday, Thornton will join what is shaping up to be a relatively deep class of free agent relievers.