Red Sox decline 2014 club option for lefty Matt Thornton

Matt Thornton will be free to sign with any team on Tuesday.
Matt Thornton will be free to sign with any team on Tuesday. (USATSI)

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The Red Sox have declined their 2014 club option for left-hander Matt Thornton, the team announced. They'll pay him a $1 million buyout right now rather than a $6 million salary next season.

Thornton, 37, had a 3.52 ERA and 1.76 WHIP in 15 1/3 innings for Boston after being acquired from the White Sox at the trade deadline. He held left-handed batters to a .235/.267/.370 batting line overall this year but was left off the Red Sox's postseason roster in all three rounds.

Once one of the very best relievers in all of baseball, Thornton's performance has slipped in recent years, which isn't very surprising given his age. Here are some troubling trends:

2010-13 Matt Thornton
Season Fastball Velocity (mph) Strikeout Rate (K/9) Swing-and-Miss Rate
2010 96.1 12.02 14.9%
2011 95.8 9.50 10.4%
2012 95.0 7.34 8.1%
2013 94.3 6.23 7.8%

Given his name value and the fact that left-handed relievers are always in high demand, Thornton should have no trouble finding a new team this winter.

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