Sports

Nationals Give Up Nothing, Get Yankees Primary Lefty Reliever Matt Thornton

by Chris Lingebach
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Matt Thornton #48 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 4, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Matt Thornton #48 of the New York Yankees delivers a pitch in the eighth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 4, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – The Washington Nationals acquired left-handed reliever Matt Thornton on Tuesday, after putting in a waiver claim for the 6-foot-6 Yankees pitcher.

The move wasn’t your traditional waiver transaction, as the Yankees are only six games back in the AL East, but steeped with young lefties in their farm system.

“We have some young left-handers who are emerging quickly that we’re excited about,” Yankees general manager Brain Cashman explained the decision, via the New York Post.

Even more odd, the Nationals had to give up nothing in return for Thornton, a career-3.49 ERA pitcher with 12 holds and a 2.55 ERA through 46 appearances with the Yankees in 2014.

“Without giving up a player, I thought I was very happy about the acquisition,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo to 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier on Wednesday. “He’s a great guy — I’ve known him for a long time — he’s a great guy in the clubhouse, and his teammates in Chicago really loved him, and I think he’s gonna be a good addition to us.”

Rizzo, asked for clarification on the Nationals not having to give up a player, explained, “After you’re awarded the claim — because several teams can claim the player — after you’re awarded the claim, you have 48 hours to work out a deal with the team, in this case the Yankees, and at the end of that, if you cannot work out a deal for players, they can just have you take the claim, and take the player along with the contract.”

Thornton, 37, is workhorse. He’s pitched on two days rest or less on 24 occasions this season, and he fills a need for the Nationals as they make their final 51-game push towards the playoffs.

“I think he strengthens an already strong bullpen,” Rizzo said. “He gives us another power option out of there — he’s 95, 96 [MPH] from the left side — and he’s battle-tested, been in the playoffs before, he’s pitched in an All-Star Game. So he’s a veteran guy. I think he’ll bring us some stability back there, and a guy that’s been through the rigors of a pennant chase before, and he’s having a really good year this season.”

Thornton’s struck out 20 and hasn’t given up a home run this season.

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