Red Sox

Brewers GM: Thornburg healthy when we traded him to Red Sox


Brewers GM: Thornburg healthy when we traded him to Red Sox

Brewers general manager David Stearns affirmed Wednesday that Tyler Thornburg was in good health when he traded him to the Red Sox over the winter.

When Stearns took over the Brewers in late 2015, Thonburg had come back from a UCL injury.

“He was healthy. I am not particularly sure what the timeline was prior to when I got here, but he was healthy certainly when I got here in 2015, and throughout the 2016 season and did really an outstanding job for us,” Stearns said on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast. “He’s a really talented pitcher. A guy who keeps his composure late in games and as soon as he gets healthy I have no question that he’s going to help the Red Sox out a lot.

“We, as long as, I’ve been here we had really no concerns at all. And he really did a wonderful job for us.”

Click to listen to the podcast. Story continues below.

Thornburg said in spring training that the Red Sox shoulder program was different from the Brewers, at least contributing to some of his initial discomfort. That discomfort never went away. Thornburg’s been on the disabled list all season with a right shoulder impingement.

Stearns stood by the Brewers' workout routine.

“I saw it very peripherally. I don’t know exactly what he said,” Stearns said of Thornburg's comments. “I knew he was dealing with some shoulder fatigue and that the Red Sox shoulder program was in some way different from ours. But we’ve had a pretty good run of success here long before I got here of preventing shoulder injuries. 

“We have a really talented medical group that’s been in place for a number of years that works very well together, that works very well with our pitchers, so I certainly have complete confidence in our shoulder program. And that it’s doing a good job for our guys.”

The Red Sox and Brewers first talked about Thornburg midseason last year.

“Throughout the course of the summer we had interest in a number of our relievers," Stearns said. "I think we had discussions about a couple of our guys . . . In this case it took everyone a couple of months for everyone to figure out a deal that could potentially work for both sides. Obviously that’s the goal in any of these transactions, is to come up with a solution that both sides can look back on and say that that one worked.”

For the Red Sox, right now, it’s hard to say it’s worked. Third baseman Travis Shaw is a productive player in a mashing Brewers lineup, while the Red Sox are desperately waiting for some help at the hot corner from the disabled list.

The trade that brought Thornburg to the Sox centered on Shaw, who wasn’t thrilled about his playing-time situation in Boston last year.

“A number of things drew us to him,” Stearns said. “First is you have a relatively young player who’s demonstrated above average power production throughout his career, not only in home-run production, but extra-base production. We saw some positional versatility and the ability to play both third base and first base. We were really impressed with his ability to pick up third base a little bit later in his career. That’s not easy for someone to do, and demonstrated a degree of athleticism that maybe isn’t evident on a lot of corner players throughout the league, and he was a guy we felt like if given an opportunity, if given regular playing time, he might have a chance to flourish. 

“Clearly he had chances for ABs in Boston last year. He also was in a little bit of a platoon situation that threw him off his game a little bit, or at least that’s potentially why he saw some second half decline. So we were willing to give him an opportunity, we had obviously a need and he’s filled that spot in our lineup and the field for us very well.”

Stearns said he has not personally referred to Shaw as the Mayor of Ding Dong City.

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Red Sox, Yankees working to play in London in 2019

Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge are about to go global.

Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy on Monday confirmed the Sox are interested to play the Yankees in London during next year's regular season. Bloomberg reported the clubs are nearing an agreement to play two games there in June 2019. Discussions are indeed taking place, but a deal is not done.

MORE - Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

“We would love to participate in a series in London against the Yankees but this is a decision that MLB and the MLBPA will make," Sox CEO Sam Kennedy said.

Bloomberg reported the games would be played at London Stadium, which was the main facility for the 2012 summer Olympics.

MLB has not played any games in Europe before. The Red Sox have made trips before, including to Japan before the 2008 season.


Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Red Sox signal they'll keep Swihart, may trade Marrero or Holt

Blake Swihart’s strong spring seems to have the Red Sox more inclined to deal one of their natural utility infielders, such as Brock Holt or Deven Marrero, rather than Swihart, a converted catcher with high upside who's getting a look in other roles.
"Sounds like they’re holding Swihart to open," a rival executive said. "More likely to move a utility guy."
A true utility guy, that is.


The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported Sunday that Marrero has been drawing interest from other teams.

"We do have depth with our middle infielders," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. "However, [I] would not get into potential trade discussions."
Swihart, who turns 26 on April 3, is most valuable as a catcher. But he could still be useful in a bench role for the 2018 Red Sox, and a win-now mentality may be the driving force here. (It is possible, as well, that there is nothing available via trade for Swihart that has piqued the Sox’ interest. Marrero or Holt wouldn’t require as much in return.)
The potential drawback is that Swihart won’t grow much if he’s not playing every day -- and in particular, if he's not catching every day. But the Sox may be be at a juncture where they feel his bat is a worthwhile experiment off the bench, at least for this season. They can figure out his future -- and their future at backstop -- later.
"He’s a great athlete," Cora told reporters on Sunday. "We’ve seen it in the batter’s box. It’s not only the results, but the way he’s driving the ball to left field as a left-hander, the quality of at-bats as a right-hander. [On Saturday], as a pinch-hitter, that kid was throwing 99 and he throws a breaking ball and squares a ball up."
Swihart entered Monday with a .283 average in Grapefruit League play, with a .905 OPS and a pair of home runs. But he does not have the infield experience that Marrero or Holt has, and the Red Sox essentially have to carry one of those two to start the year. 
Eduardo Nunez, the temporary replacement for Dustin Pedroia, is coming off a knee injury, and a sure-handed infielder -- Marrero’s glove is particularly good -- is a must. Rafael Devers is still coming into his own at third base. 
Tzu-Wei Lin is available in the minors too, and the Sox could see some redundancy with him, Holt and Marrero. Lin, unlike Marrero, has minor league options remaining. Lin also has some limited outfield experience.
The way the Sox roster looks now, they have two spots available for the three guys: Marrero, Holt and Swihart. Health can change that. Holt, despite being the most veteran of the group, has minor league options remaining, so he theoretically could go to Triple-A to start the season. But if the Sox don't see a role for him on this year's team any way, they'd be wiser trading him, considering he's due to make $2.225 million. It also would be kindest choice for Holt, to let him have an opportunity elsewhere, if one exists.


Swihart has played first base, third base and left field in addition to catching this spring. Perhaps, in time, there will be a way to work Swihart in behind the plate for the Sox. At the least, retaining him would be insurance if Christian Vazquez or Sandy Leon do not perform well offensively.
There was a clear personal-catcher system for the Red Sox in 2017. Leon was Chris Sale’s guy, for example. Manager Alex Cora said he is not taking that approach. As an auxiliary effect, moving away from a personal-catcher system might make it easier for Swihart to receive more time behind the plate, if called on.
"Whoever I feel comfortable with that day behind the plate, he'll catch," Cora told reporters in Florida. "Christian already caught him. Sandy's going to catch him today. And then the next turn, Christian's going to catch him. Everybody's going to work with everybody."