Boone Logan has gone on to sign a three-year, $16.5 million contract with the Rockies, leaving the Yankees lacking a left-handed specialist for their bullpen. In Matt Thornton they have hopefully found his replacement.
Yankees have signed lefty reliever Matt Thornton to a 2-year deal. He will make $3.5 million each season.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 17, 2013
Thornton has a 3.53 ERA and 3.41 FIP over his 10-year career with a good strikeout rate (9.22 K/9), but a worrisome walk rate (3.58 BB/9). He also has a good home run rate (0.76 HR/9) and ground ball rate ( 47.8%), reaching over 50% in the last two seasons. Where he starts to get into trouble is when you look into his splits against right-handed and left-handed hitters. Against lefties, he's lights out with a 2.73 FIP and a very effective 11.32 K/9 and 2.88 BB/9. But against righties, he has a 3.94 FIP with an unimpressive 7.57 K/9 and 4.12 BB/9. Basically what it means is that he needs to be kept away from right-handed hitters.
The Yankees needed to strengthen their bullpen, and now they have for the next two years, but really just against lefties. They still need to add a right-handed reliever who can be a strength in the back of the bullpen. It's possible that Cesar Cabral or Vidal Nuno could serve as a second lefty at some point, but Thornton has the job locked down.
He's the new LOOGY in town and signing him through his age-37 and 38 seasons at $7 million could make him a bargain replacement over Logan. But there's concerns about his loss in velocity ruining his ability to get batters to swing and miss. It's not a big one-year gamble, but a second could prove troublesome.
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