WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The Washington Nationals acquired left-handed reliever Matt Thornton on Tuesday, after putting in a waiver claim for the 6-foot-6 Yankee.
The move was not your traditional waiver transaction, as the Yankees are only six games back in the AL East; and yet, their farm system is steeped with young lefties.
“We have some young left-handers who are emerging quickly that we’re excited about,” Yankees general manager Brian 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 for New York in 2014.
“He’s a great guy. I’ve known him for a long time,” he said. “He’s a great guy in the clubhouse, and his teammates in Chicago really loved him, and I think he’s going to be a good addition to us.”
Rizzo, asked for clarification on the Nationals not having to give up a player, explained, “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 toward the postseason.
“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 batters and has not given up a home run this season.