Matt Thornton
Matt Thornton
42-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
2019 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for Matt Thornton in 2019. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Signed a minor league contract with San Diego in March 2016. Worth $1.6 million plus $2.4 million in incentives if he makes the team and can request release on 3/27.
DFA'd Saturday
PSan Diego Padres  
August 6, 2016
Thornton was designated for assignment Saturday.
After a lackluster July in which Thornton posted a 9.45 ERA and 1.80 WHIP over eight appearances, the Padres deemed him expendable when they signed Clayton Richard on Saturday. Thornton will likely head to Triple-A El Paso unless he gets picked up by another organization during his waiver period.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Another year, another effective performance in relief for the seemingly ageless Thornton, who turns 40 this coming September. The left-hander doesn't quite have the overpowering fastball he once did, but it's still solidly in the low 90s, and his slider remains dangerous. He's also added a split-finger pitch to his arsenal in recent seasons, which he uses to keep right-handed hitters off-balance. He's still more effective against same-side hitters, though, and lefties hit just .195/.205/.279 against him. The strikeouts aren't there any more, and Thornton isn't someone you'd want to trust in too many late-inning situations, but he's still capable of supplying some useful appearances from the middle of a bullpen. A free agent, he might have to settle for a one-year deal this offseason given his age, but as an effective lefty he'll likely be able to keep pitching just about as long as he wants to.
Picked up from the Yankees late in the season, Thornton tossed 11.1 scoreless innings down the stretch for the Nationals with a solid 8:2 K:BB ratio. The 38-year-old left-hander's best days are far behind him, and his slider doesn't have the bite it once did, but he's still capable of humming a mid-90s fastball over the plate and being a reliable setup man. With Rafael Soriano gone, the pecking order in the Nats' bullpen will be a bit different in 2015, but Drew Storen is set as the closer and Thornton will mostly work in the seventh and eighth innings, meaning anyone who adds him to their fantasy squad will have to be content with the occasional matchup save chance or vultured win.
Thornton finished off the 2013 season with Boston after the White Sox traded him in July. A useful lefty arm out of the pen, Thornton was very hittable in his time with Boston and was left off the postseason roster. The Yankees signed Thornton in December after Boone Logan landed a three-year deal with Colorado, leaving the veteran to work as part of the bridge to the ninth inning in the Bronx in 2014.
After striking out more than 10.0 K/9 from 2008-10, Thornton's strikeout rate tumbled further into single digits for the second consecutive season. His declining velocity, coupled with manager Robin Ventura's preference for Addison Reed in the ninth inning sapped his value for fantasy owners in 2012. Thornton could be in line for a handful of saves if Addison Reed struggles in the closer role, but even that is not a guarantee at this point. Most likely, he will instead serve as the team's top left-handed setup man.
The White Sox handed Thornton a two-year extension worth $12 million just before naming him their closer in March. However, they might want a refund after the way the rest of his season unfolded. A handful of blown saves knocked him from the ninth-inning role before the end of April, and he wrapped up the year with four-year lows in WHIP, K/9IP, BB/9IP, losses, innings and ERA. The K/9IP was still at a respectable 9.50, but that was a far cry from the 12.02 he posted in 2010. He did not lose much velocity on his fastball, but Pitch f/x shows that he had less movement on it. The WHIP and ERA may fall has he regresses from his career-worst .326 BABIP, but it looks like his days as a closer-in-waiting are over, even after the White Sox traded Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays in December.
Thornton continued his ascent into fantasy relevance in 2010. It was his third straight season with 10.0-plus strikeouts per nine innings, but Bobby Jenks' struggles allowed Thornton to take over the closer role at times. He saved eight games in temporary stints in the closer role, and that number could increase in 2011 with Jenks out of the picture depending on the White Sox's plans for Chris Sale.
Thornton had something of a career year in 2009. He went from left-handed specialist to top setup man and struck out 77 in 67 innings, while only walking 19. Despite his proficiencies against lefties, he got righties to whiff pretty often as well. Thornton also got a chance to step into the closer's role when Bobby Jenks was hurt, and he should play a similar role in 2010.
Like a lot of lefty relievers in modern baseball, Thornton gets misused as a specialist despite being effective -- .235/.328/.377 career -- against righties. It kills his fantasy value, because if allowed to throw more complete innings and go more than an inning, he might pick up extra wins and odd saves. As is, he's one of the better set-up men in the AL, and a candidate for saves in a Jenks-free pen.
Hardly anything went right in the White Sox bullpen in 2007 and Thornton was no exception. Looking to build off of his 2006 campaign when he posted a 1.241 WHIP and limited lefties to a .211 batting average, Thornton disappointed with a 1.509 WHIP and a 4.79 ERA as lefties his .283 against him. Thornton's never been a death-on-lefties guy in his career outside of '06 but the Sox will need him to regain that form this season. He'll be back as the primary late-inning option from the left side unless he spits up all over himself in the spring but needs to reign in some of his control issues if he's to take the next step forward.
Thornton was the beneficiary of a roster spot when Dustin Hermanson couldn't make it in the spring. He cut his walk totals down and made himself into a fine major league reliever, allowing just two runs and seven hits over the final 11 appearances (6.2 IP). He's a lefty specialist for now but has the potential to be more, if necessary, since neither righties nor lefties want to face his 98-mph fastball.
In addition to a high-90s fastball, Thornton has a devastating slider -- when it's working. That's been the problem, though. Thornton was once a top prospect in the organization, but his inconsistency at the big-league level has caused headaches for the Mariners. He allowed a baserunner in 48 of his 55 appearances last season, finishing with 57 strikeouts and 42 walks. He is out of minor league options -- that's why he made the club last season -- and the Mariners could just release him if he struggles in spring training.
The Mariners 1998 first-round draft pick, Thornton finally debuted last season. He failed to impress and his season was cut short by shoulder soreness. After a stint in winter ball, the Mariners are convinced Thornton has regained his arm strength. He has a shot to make the bullpen.
Thornton could be the other lefty out of the bullpen after Eddie Guardado this season. His problem is staying healthy. He was coming off Tommy John surgery last season, then developed a neck injury late in the year. He finished with a 3-2 record and a 2.58 ERA in eight starts. The M's expect him to be recovered by spring and have high expectations for the hard-throwing lefty and former first-round draft pick.
Thornton is on the 40-man roster, but will spend the 2003 season in the minors, likely at Triple-A Tacoma.
More Fantasy News
PSan Diego Padres  
May 28, 2016
Thornton (Achilles) was activated off the disabled list Saturday.
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PSan Diego Padres  
May 27, 2016
Thornton (Achilles) is close to returning from the disabled list but won't be activated Friday, Dennis Lin of the Union-Tribune reports.
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PSan Diego Padres  
May 26, 2016
Thornton (Achilles) could return to the Padres as early as Friday, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
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PSan Diego Padres  
May 21, 2016
Thornton (Achilles) began his rehab assignment with High-A Lake Elsinore on Saturday,'s Bill Center reports.
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PSan Diego Padres  
April 30, 2016
Thornton (Achilles) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Saturday but still remains without a timetable for return, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
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