I was scanning the internet for a bit of White Sox news and I came across an interesting article by Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. In the article Rogers talks about bargaining chips on both the North and South sides of Chicago and a name he said was sure to be headed out of town is left-hander Matt Thornton. To me, this was surprising. Thornton has been a solid pitcher out of the bullpen for his entire career on the White Sox. Why deal him? Well, there are a few reasons.
If you take off your Fan Hat and put on the hat of a general manager you realize that it’s because Thornton has been good over the past few years that you need to trade him now. If you wait too long teams will see that he’s near the end of his prime – Sox fans saw glimpses of that last season. His 3.32 ERA in 2011 after a 2.67 in 2010 is pretty good evidence of that as well. Thornton should get traded now while he has value.
Trades are risky because Thornton could save 45 games next year, we just don’t know. Then again he could tank and have one of the worst years of his career while Kenny Williams smiles at the scouting reports of the two or three prospects we got in return. Kenny hasn’t made very many bad deals during his stint as White Sox general manager. He always gets value in return as well. John Danks? Got him from Texas for Brandon McCarthy. Gavin Floyd? Got him from Philadelphia for Freddy Garcia. Carlos Quentin? We got him from Arizona for Chris Carter. (To be completely honest it’s the free agent signings we should be worried about.)
Which teams could use a left-handed specialist-type out of the bullpen? Quite a few – they’re a rare commodity in baseball. If Kenny is smart, which he is, he’d try to avoid trading Thornton inside the division like the plague. Because nobody likes the plague. Hop in a DeLorean and ask any Israelite. It would almost be best for Kenny to look for a trade partner in the National League, a team with a deep farm system. The Astros perhaps? Or the Marlins? If we’re staying in the American League I’d target Boston, Tampa, or Baltimore. Just because of the fact that I don’t want all of the AL teams to be in the East, I’ll throw in the Rangers to balance it out. Yeah, that looks good.
Being a fan all I can really do is think in words. Could Thornton get traded? Phil Rogers seems to think so and I agree with him – get prospects now while Thornton is just beginning his slide down the Hill of Suck. Literally any team could use him because he truly is a rare breed of pitcher. It’s just a matter of finding the team with the Matt Thornton-shaped foot for our Matt Thornton-shaped glass slipper.