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Nationals claim Matt Thornton off waivers from Yankees

Aug 5, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

Matt Thornton Yankees Getty Images

Most players are pulled back once they’re claimed during the August revocable waiver period, but it’s always interesting when a team claims a player and the original team simply says “OK fine, take him.”

That happened today with Matt Thornton, who was claimed off revocable waivers by the Nationals and given away for nothing by the Yankees.

Thornton has pitched well this season with a 2.55 ERA and strong secondary numbers, but he’s 37 years old and his role has been extremely limited with just 24.2 innings in 46 appearances.

He’s also owed $3.5 million for next season as part of a two-year, $7 million deal signed in December, so the Yankees basically decided they’d rather have that cash to spend again this offseason. Washington has been looking for left-handed bullpen help seemingly forever, so Thornton is certainly a sensible fit from the Nationals’ point of view.

  1. jbriggs81 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Thornton’s numbers look much better than how he actually pitched this season. He’s been extremely ineffective, especially when coming in to face lefties.

    • bronxbomber213 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:57 PM

      He let a ton of inherited runners score

      • jbriggs81 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        Since June 1st, he has allowed 50% of inherited runners score runs

    • timberwolvesbrisin - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Dont expect HBT to go in depth.

    • Detroit Michael - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:52 PM

      Looking at Thornton’s Fangraphs’ page, the numbers support the above impressions. The above fan impressions are spot on.

      Driven by the fact that he has allowed no homers, his FIP is roughly the same as his ERA: both are excellent.

      However, his Win Probability Added is almost one entire win below average. When Thornton has given up hits, apparently they have been timed quite poorly. If one evaluates Thornton based when exactly he gives up hits, i.e. including his clutch or anti-clutch performance, then he’s not done well this year.

      • lukedunphysscienceproject - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:01 AM

        I consider when a relief pitcher gives up hits to be the ONLY relevant stat for a reliever, especially a short, situational reliever like Thornton.

  2. vapor54 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    still the Yanks aren’t pitching-rich

    • Jeremy T - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:18 PM

      He’s not a starter, though, so I’m not sure that’s relevant. Their bullpen has actually been a strength this year (although I’m not sure they have another lefty specialist).

  3. chip56 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    What’s actually more shocking to me is that Brett Gardner went through waivers unclaimed.

    • larrymahnken - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:36 PM

      Many good players get through unclaimed.

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Aug 6, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      Teams aren’t going to waste time putting in waiver claims on players they know will just be pulled back.

  4. nickdesposito - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:47 PM

    Yeah, you clearly haven’t watched Thorton pitch if you think he’s pitched “well”.

    • nickdesposito - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:47 PM


  5. barrywhererufrom - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    this Yankee fan really has no reaction to the move. Thornton is a tease. Looks nice with that 95 mph fastball but too many times he has no other pitch to lefties to put them away. One thing that is being reported is that Jabob Lindgren a lefty reliever out of Mississippi State may be on the fast track to the Ynakees by the end of the month. Looks like David Huff’s role just got bigger..

  6. mattinglyschmidt - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Come on Pat Venditte! I want some switch pitching to bring more fun to the last two months of the season. He can be the first LOOGY/ROOGY in baseball history! And he’s pitching well in AAA, with a 2.48 ERA and 29:10 K:BB in 29 IP over the past two months (so it’s not selective endpoints, he has a 3.15 ERA in AAA and 0.82 in AA, for a 2.32 overall for the season with more than a K per IP.)

    • mattinglyschmidt - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      And the NY Post is reporting the Yankees called up Rich Hill from AAA. 😦

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:54 PM

      I think Venditte slept with Cashman’s wife. He pitches well at each level, but they take forever to move him up to the next level, and have said repeatedly that they won’t bring him up to MLB.

  7. larrymahnken - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    ERA is pretty useless for a reliever who doesn’t pitch full innings most of the time. He’s not good at stranding runners, so he hasn’t been particularly useful for the Yankees. But his peripherals are pretty solid.

  8. 4cornersfan - Aug 6, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    The Yankees have some young lefties in AA and AAA that they want to give a look. They just signed Rich Hill who was let go on waivers by the Nats, but look for Tyler Webb who is doing well at SWB and maybe even Jacob Lindgren, the Yank’s #1 draft pick this year. Lindgren just got moved to AA after striking out 30 batters in 13 innings in A ball.

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