Mariners acquire reliever Thornton from Blue Jays

July 26th, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- Trade season is officially in full swing for the Mariners and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto, though the first domino represented more of a depth move than a big addition or subtraction.

With five days to go before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline, Seattle on Wednesday afternoon acquired reliever from the Blue Jays in exchange for Triple-A Tacoma infielder Mason McCoy.

To clear a 40-man roster spot for Thornton, was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Mariners receive
: RHP Trent Thornton
Blue Jays receive: INF Mason McCoy

Thornton, who’s made four big league appearances for Toronto this season, was designated for assignment on Friday after the Blue Jays acquired reliever  from the Cardinals. He’ll report to Tacoma, but it’s possible he could be considered for big league innings down the stretch.

Thornton has spent most of the season with Triple-A Buffalo, where he’s carried a 4.18 ERA in 28 innings across 22 outings. His 13.7% walk rate there stands out as a career high, but it’s partially been offset by a 42% ground-ball rate. In the Majors, he’s surrendered one earned run in 5 1/3 innings.

Thornton has appeared in five MLB seasons, all with Toronto, since earning the Blue Jays’ final rotation spot in 2019. But he’s been in and out of their bullpen since ‘20, partly a byproduct of having Minor League options -- and he’ll be out of them in ‘24. But the Mariners will still have the flexibility to utilize that for the rest of this season.

Gonzales has been on the 15-day IL since June 3, meaning he'd first be eligible to return next Wednesday. Dipoto said during an interview with ROOT Sports over the weekend that Gonzales has not yet begun a throwing program in his recovery from a left forearm strain.

McCoy, who’s been in Seattle’s organization since 2017, has been on the big league doorstep multiple times over the past 12 months, but he has yet to debut.

McCoy had a productive Spring Training and he looked like a strong candidate to break camp after utility infielder Dylan Moore suffered a left oblique strain, but the club instead opted for veteran Tommy La Stella. Then, when there was a need for infield depth, the club opted for José Caballero, who emerged in a more prominent role. For this season, McCoy has experienced a decline in production to .234/.330/.407 (.737 OPS).

Wednesday’s move is far from a major one, but it could have rippling implications as the first domino in how Seattle approaches the Deadline. Bullpen shuffling is typical for any club at this time of the season, regardless if they’re in the postseason race, where the Mariners sit on the outside.