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Thornburg signs deal, avoiding arbitration

Red Sox will tender contracts to 29 remaining unsigned players
MLB.com @IanMBrowne

BOSTON -- There is still a chance that the Tyler Thornburg acquisition will work out for the Red Sox. The club made sure of that on Friday, when it agreed to terms with the righty reliever on a one-year, $1.75 million non-guaranteed contract, thus avoiding salary arbitration.

Thornburg's contract includes up to $400,000 in incentives for games pitched.

BOSTON -- There is still a chance that the Tyler Thornburg acquisition will work out for the Red Sox. The club made sure of that on Friday, when it agreed to terms with the righty reliever on a one-year, $1.75 million non-guaranteed contract, thus avoiding salary arbitration.

Thornburg's contract includes up to $400,000 in incentives for games pitched.

Friday was the deadline for all clubs to tender contracts to their unsigned players, and Thornburg, who has been plagued by injuries in his first two seasons with the Red Sox, was the team's top non-tender candidate.

In addition to Thornburg's deal, the Sox announced they will tender a contract to all 29 remaining unsigned players on the Major League roster.

That group includes 2018 American League MVP Award winner Mookie Betts, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr., infielder/outfielder Brock Holt, catchers Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, right-handers Matt BarnesHeath Hembree and Brandon Workman and knuckleballer Steven Wright.

Those 11 players are all eligible for salary arbitration.

As for Thornburg, he now has a chance to become a key member of bullpen that is currently in a state of flux. Craig Kimbrel, Boston's All-Star closer the last three seasons, is a free agent. So, too, is power righty Joe Kelly, who was a major force in the postseason run that ended with Boston winning the World Series.

The Red Sox acquired Thornburg from the Brewers on Dec. 6, 2016, for slugging corner infielder Travis Shaw. At least to this point, that deal has been all Brewers, with Shaw clubbing 63 homers and accumulating 187 RBIs and an .844 OPS over the last two seasons.

Thornburg didn't pitch at all for the Red Sox in 2017 due to discomfort in his right shoulder which eventually required surgery to repair thoracic outlet syndrome. He returned in '18, making his long-awaited debut for Boston on July 6.

Thornburg pitched in 25 games for the Sox that season, going 2-0 with a 5.63 ERA. Over 24 innings, he had 10 walks and 21 strikeouts while allowing six homers and an opponents' batting average of .295.

Those numbers demonstrate Thornburgh's inconsistency, but also the fact he was coming back from a significant injury. He was not on the roster for any of the three postseason series in 2018. The Red Sox believe he can still return to form, though pitchers have had varying levels of success coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome.

Thornburg joins Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Hembree and Workman as righty relievers who are projected to return to the defending World Series champs.

Boston's 40-man roster is at 39, which includes 10 players who are already under contract for 2019: J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Eduardo Nunez, Steve Pearce, Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello, David Price, Chris Sale, Thornburg and Christian Vazquez.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox