Tuesday, the Brewers traded reliever Tyler Thornburg to the Boston Red Sox for Travis Shaw, two prospects and either a player to be named later or cash.
Thornburg emerged as Milwaukee's closer in 2016 after the team dealt Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith before the trading deadline. The 28-year-old third-round pick in 2010 saved 13 games for the Brewers while posting a 2.15 ERA and 0.940 WHIP with 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings. He allowed just 38 hits in a career-high 67 innings. Thornburg was especially effective against left-handed hitters, who batted just .130 off him.
Dave Dombrowski, Boston's president of baseball operations, said the Red Sox asked about Thornburg last season and the Brewers didn't want to deal him. Last month, Stearns said Milwaukee was interested in Shaw, and trade talks increased during the last week.
After beginning his pro career as a starter, Thornburg became a reliever after having elbow trouble in 2014. He's been healthy since then and his arrival comes “at the absolute right time,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said.
Thornburg took over as the Brewers' closer for the last two months after Jeremy Jeffress was traded to Texas, and was equally effective against lefty and righty hitters. He held left-handers to a .130 batting average last season, and at one point retired 26 hitters in a row overall.
Shaw played mainly third base for Boston last season, but also appeared at first base, left field and designated hitter. With the Red Sox, Shaw played 145 games, with a slash line of 242/306/421 while hitting 34 doubles and 16 home runs and driving in 71 runs. In 2015 as a rookie, he played 55 of his 65 games at first base, batting 270/327/487 with 13 homers.
Milwaukee is also receiving prospects Mauricio Dubon, middle infielder, and right-handed pitcher Josh Pennington.
“Travis provides another left-handed power bat, bringing balance to the lineup. Mauricio is a highly-regarded prospect who brings us speed and plate discipline, and adds further infield depth,” general manager David Stearns said in a statement. “Josh is a promising young prospect who further improves our stock of power arms throughout the system.”
Dubon, 22, split his time last season between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland, batting 323/379/461 with 30 stolen bases. At Double-A, he hit 339/371/538 with six home runs in 62 games (270 plate appearances). Dubon was a 26th-round pick of Boston in the 2013 draft. MLB.com lists Dubon as the 12th-best prospect in the Red Sox's system while Baseball America listed Dubon as Boston's seventh-rated prospect after the 2016 season.
Pennington, 21, was a 29th-round pick in the 2014 draft. Last season for Lowell in low Single-A, he had a 2.86 ERA and 1.165 WHIP in 13 starts. He allowed 6.2 hits and 4.3 walks per nine innings while striking out 7.8 per 9. MLB.com has Pennington as the 22nd-best prospect in Boston's system while Baseball America had him ranked No. 29 after the 2015 season.
The trade calls into question who will close out game for the Brewers in 2017. With Thornburg gone, the most saves for any player on Milwaukee's roster last year was two, by both Corey Knebel and Carlos Torres.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
It's been real Boston ✌🏼️excited for the opportunity ahead of me in Milwaukee! Looking forward to this next chapter in my career! #Brewers