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.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter is not expected to retain his position with the club beyond the 2018 season, according to multiple reports from Jon Heyman of Fancred and Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports. Nothing appears to be finalized just yet, however, and the Orioles have yet to address rumors of Showalter’s impending departure or news of a possible contract extension for general manager Dan Duquette.
Even so, it’s been a year of near-unprecedented disaster for the 62-year-old skipper, who helped lead the team to a 44-108 record prior to the outcome of Friday’s series opener against the Yankees. With the Orioles’ 108th loss — a 4-6 heartbreaker against the Blue Jays on Tuesday — they tied the 1937 St. Louis Browns for the second-most losses in a single season, eclipsed only by the 43-111 record of the 1939 Browns. As they have just 10 games remaining in the regular season, this year’s team has no chance of climbing out of last place in the AL East and may well finish with the worst record in the AL to boot.
While the Orioles’ missteps don’t bode well for Showalter’s future in Baltimore, he’s brought far more good than harm to the organization over the last eight and a half years. He assumed the managerial position from interim manager Juan Samuel in the middle of the team’s 2010 season and guided the club to five winning seasons and three postseason appearances in 2012, 2014, and 2016. Entering the 2018 season, his record sits at 666 wins and 677 losses, the winningest mark by any of the team’s skippers since Earl Weaver wrapped his 17-season run with the team in 1986. Whether the Orioles believe Showalter is capable of recovering from two consecutive losing seasons and returning the team to their former days of glory (and the occasional division title) remains to be seen, of course, though there’s plenty to recommend him as they prepare to advance a full-scale rebuild over the offseason.