UPDATE: And now O’Brien takes it a step further, calling Cowley’s rumor “bogus.”
Matt Thornton was rumored to be on the trading block even before general manager Ken Williams said today that the White Sox are going into rebuilding mode, and sure enough Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times reports that “Thornton to Atlanta is picking up steam.”
On the other hand, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution responded to Cowley’s report with: “Just spoke with someone who said it’s not happening.”
So … who knows.
Thornton is owed $12 million over the next two seasons, but if the White Sox are willing to eat a chunk of that money he’d be a very nice addition to just about any bullpen. Even the reliever-rich Braves.
He’s posted a sub-3.50 ERA in four straight seasons while striking out 10.7 batters per nine innings, including a 3.32 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 60 innings this year. Thornton is 35 years old and pricey, but he’s consistently been one of the best left-handed setup men in baseball.
The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.
Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.
Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.