The World Champion Boston Red Sox retained a member of their bullpen from the 2018 season, signing right-handed pitcher Tyler Thornburg to a one-year, $1.75 million non-guaranteed contract on Friday. The contract also includes up to $400,000 in incentives for Thornburg for games pitched. The move avoids arbitration for the 30-year-old reliever, who the Red Sox acquired nearly two years ago.
Thornburg has been plagued by injury during his time in Boston, appearing in just 25 games over the course of two seasons. In December 2016, Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski traded third baseman Travis Shaw – along with two prospects and either a player to be named later of cash considerations – to the Milwaukee Brewers for Thornburg. At the time, Thornburg was a setup man coming off his best season where he had an earned-run average of 2.15 in 67 appearances.
Since that time, Thornburg has been largely sidelined with thoracic outlet syndrome. After missing all of the 2017 with the injury and the consequential surgery, Thornburg finally made his Red Sox debut on July 6, 2018 against Kansas City. In the 25 games he appeared in this past season, the righty compiled a 5.63 ERA – the highest of his career.
Thornburg was left of the playoff roster this October. His return comes with Boston facing some questions in their bullpen. Closer Craig Kimbrell declined the team’s $17.9 million qualifying offer earlier in the month, making him a free agent. Joe Kelly, the once starter turned reliever, is also exploring free agency after appearing in 11.1 postseason innings during the Sox run to the World Series; he struck out 13 batters and allowed one earned run in the playoffs. Nathan Eovaldi, who served as both a starter and a reliever in the postseason, is also a free agent.
The Red Sox also announced that they tendered all 29 of the unsigned players on their roster, including all of their arbitration-eligible players. Friday was the deadline to tender contracts to unsigned players under team control.
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