The Red Sox have released right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg, per the club’s official Twitter account.
Thornburg, 30, was returned from his month-long rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday without being activated from the 10-day injured list with a right hip impingement, meaning the Sox had two days to decide whether to add the righty back to the active roster, designate him for assignment, or outright him.
On Tuesday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that Thornburg would not accept a minor league assignment, so this outcome seemed the most likely before it even occurred.
Acquired by Boston from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for infielder Travis Shaw and minor leaguers, Yeison Coca, Maurico Dubon, and Josh Pennington in December of 2016, Thornburg’s tenure with the Red Sox did not go according to plan.
Given his reputation as one of the better setup men in the National League in his time with Milwaukee, Thornburg was seen as part of the bridge out of the Sox bullpen that would make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.
Instead, the Texas native missed all the 2017 season due to thoracic outlet syndrome in his throwing shoulder and did not make his Red Sox debut until July 6th of the following season.
There, Thornburg appeared in 25 games for Boston, posting a dismal 5.63 ERA and .901 OPS against over 24 innings pitched before being shut down for the remainder of the year on September 26th.
This year, the former third round pick made his first Opening Day roster as a member of the Red Sox, and allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits and 10 walks to go along with 22 strikeouts over 16 appearances and 18 2/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.71 and OPS against of .972. Not great.
Thornburg yielded two runs on two hits and two walks in the sixth inning of a 10-3 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays on may 21st, two days before he was placed on the IL.
While rehabbing with the PawSox, Thornburg posted a 12.66 ERA and 2.44 WHIP over 11 outings (one start) and just 10 2/3 frames pitched.
As mentioned before, his reputation while with the Brewers should give Thornburg another shot with another club, but it was clear that the marriage between him and the Red Sox was never going to work out. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him better.
Out of all the trades Dave Dombrowski has made since taking over as the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations in 2015, this particular one he made with David Stearns should go down as one of the worst.
The Red Sox virtually got nothing of value out of Thornburg while he was with the club, nor could they flip him for any sort of asset(s) either.
Instead, Travis Shaw, despite being demoted to Triple-A San Antonio last month, has gone on to have two 30-plus home run seasons with the Brewers.
Mauricio Dubon, meanwhile, worked his way to becoming Milwaukee’s fifth-ranked prospect before getting the call up the majors on July 7th, where he will look to provide infield depth to a team competing for a National League Central crown.
All this transpiring while the Red Sox continue to deal with struggles in their bullpen and may even trade for a reliever of Thornburg’s perceived caliber before he arrived in Boston.