White Sox manager Robin Ventura has avoided naming a closer or even giving strong hints about which way he’s leaning among Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, and Addison Reed, but Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times reports that “the smart money” is on Thornton getting the job.
Thornton struggled with some save chances early last season before giving way to Sergio Santos as the full-time closer, but Santos was traded to Toronto and Thornton has been one of the elite relievers in baseball for the past six seasons.
During that time he’s thrown 370 innings with a 3.21 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per nine frames, including a 3.32 ERA and 63/21 K/BB ratio in 60 innings last year. Crain has also been a very good setup man for a long time and Reed is a 23-year-old rookie who projects as a dominant late-inning reliever, but in the short term going with Thornton makes sense.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.