With Carson Smith still recovering from a Tommy John procedure and unlikely to pitch for the majority of the 2017 season, and with Koji Uehara‘s future uncertain, the Boston Red Sox needed to pick up an eighth inning reliever this offseason. On Tuesday, not long before acquiring Chris Sale from the White Sox, the Red Sox did just that. In a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, Boston acquired righty Tyler Thornburg in exchange for Travis Shaw and prospects Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington. The Brewers will also receive a player to be named later or cash.
Red Sox Trade Travis Shaw for Tyler Thornburg
The 28-year-old Thornburg has spent his entire career with Milwaukee until now, and experienced a career-best season in 2016. He set personal bests in innings pitched (67), strikeouts (90), saves (13), holds (20), and WHIP (0.94), while also recording a 2.15 ERA. Thornburg held batters to a miniscule .162 batting average against, and held lefties to a .130 average.
For his career, Thornburg owns a 2.87 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. He immediately slots into the the setup role for his new club, and can serve as closer should Craig Kimbrel miss time due to injury. He becomes eligible for arbitration for first time following the 2017 season, but for now is under contract at a bargain price.
Pablo Sandoval will likely take over at third base. Though his first two seasons in Boston were less than ideal, he finally seems committed to getting in shape and proving himself to the fans and the team.
Travis Shaw took over the starting third base job during Spring Training in 2016, and held on to it after Sandoval went down for the season due to injury. After a good first half, Shaw went through heavy struggles and couldn’t break out of them. In the playoffs, he was all but a non-factor. He finished the season with a .242 batting average and 16 home runs.
Dubon, 22, had a strong 2016 campaign between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland. Across the two levels, he batted .323 with an .840 OPS and 31 doubles. He can play shortstop and second base, and should anchor the Brewers infield in the future. Pennington, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher, has yet to pitch above Low-A ball, but showed some promise. He finished the season with a 2.86 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 56.2 innings. Given time to develop, he could be a fine starter down the road.