Brewers’ Hot Stove Radar: Matt Thornton


In the next few days, we’ll be looking at some potential candidates that could be on the Milwaukee Brewers’ Hot Stove radar. When it comes to the bullpen, the team will want to try to solidify and expand upon its success from this season into 2014.

Could free-agent Matt Thornton be a part of that final link?

Matt Thornton did well in his transition from the AL Central to AL East. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013, Thornton was traded from the Chicago White Sox to the the Boston Red Sox who needed a few pieces to fit into their rebuilding bullpen. Fortunately for both parties, the deal for Thornton worked out as the team would go on to win the World Series just last week, but strangely enough they did not include him on their postseason roster. Of course, Thornton ran through some bumps and bruises, but still finished the season strong enough that the he should be on the radars of most teams, including the Brewers.

What Thornton offers is experience as he just turned 37 in September and he’s a left-hander. In the entirety of 2013, Thornton pitched in 43.1 innings which saw him host an ERA of 3.74, a K/9 of 6.2 while opponents hit .285 against him. Thornton did see an increase in a lot of areas that shouldn’t be rising like WHIP and BAA with a drastic decrease in innings pitched (65 in 2012), but he still managed to be an effective lefty for both the Red Sox and White Sox this year.

Of course, Thornton would ideally fit into a Brewers’ bullpen that truly lacks in experience. He’s a veteran guy that still has some gas in the tank and is even a one time All-Star. The downside to Thornton would be a slight decline in some of his numbers, but also his contract (earning $5.5 million in the last two years) may be a little out of the price range the Brewers will want to pay for a reliever. Still, you’re not going to find many veteran left-handers on the market who have a decade’s worth of successful experience.

In the Brewers’ bullpen, Thornton would probably play a role of a specialist, and sometimes more specifically a one-out specialist. That may not sound too appealing for a Milwaukee team that relies so much upon their bullpen to pitch four or five innings in a game sometimes, but Thornton is certainly capable of pitching an innings worth of baseball.

I can’t say for certain that the Brew Crew will pursue Thornton, but he wouldn’t be a bad option for the team. The Brewers’ bullpen does need a left-handed presence now that Tom Gorzelanny remains as the only lefty. Perhaps the team looks in Thornton’s way as November progresses, but only time will tell.