OAKLAND -- The non-waiver trading deadline isn't for another two and a half weeks, but with a spate of injuries to their pitching staff, the Red Sox apparently didn't want to wait before making a deal to bolster their bullpen.
On Friday night, the team sent minor league outfielder Brandon Jacobs to the Chicago White Sox in exchange for veteran lefty reliever Matt Thornton.
The Red Sox also got $750,000 from the White Sox to help pay some of Thornton's remaining salary for 2013 (approximately $2.5 million) as well as a $1 million buyout for 2014 on an option worth $6 million.
Thronton, 36, had appeared in 40 games with the White Sox, with an 0-3 mark and a 3.86 ERA. His 18 holds were tied for fourth among American League relief pitchers.
According to an industry source, the Red Sox and White Sox had had discussions about Thornton for a while, but the talks intensified once the Red Sox learned Monday that they would be without lefty reliever Andrew Miller (torn ligaments in left foot) for the remainder of the season.
"You don't go into July hoping to trade for a reliever,'' said GM Ben Cherington. "But we are where we are and Andrew going down increased the level of urgency. We felt like this made sense and to do it at this time and not wait until the deadline because we've got plenty of important games before July 31.''
Cherington specifically mentioned the team's scheule immediately after the All-Star break, which figures a homestand with three games against the New York Yankees and four with the Tampa Bay Rays before a three-game trip to Baltimore.
The Sox began the year with three lefties in the bullpen, but Miller's injury along with the fact that Franklin Morales has been sidelined for the last few weeks with a left pectoral muscle pull had left Craig Breslow as the team's only lefty reliever.
Red Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves served as White Sox' bullpen coach for several seasons before joining the Boston staff, and his familiarity with Thronton was a factor in the deal.
"But the No. 1 thing was his track record,'' said Cherington. "He's a proven lefthanded relief pitcher who's been effective in the A.L. for a long time. He's had success in the American League and had success against some of the hitters we face (in the division). We were looking to give John (Farrell) another option down there in the pen.''
A 10-year major league veteran, Thornton had become the White Sox' all-time leader in relief appearances (512) and holds (164) and is second in career relief strikeouts (486).
Since 2008, Thornton leads all lefty relievers in strikeouts with 382. Beginning with the 2006 season, Thornton has the most appearances and most innings pitched of any A.L. reliever while ranking second in strikeouts.
Thornton's strikeout rates have been down in recent seasons (from a career-best 12.0 per nine innings in 2010 to 6.8 this season) and righthanders have hit him better this year, with a .320 batting average against in 50 at-bats.
But the Sox, who scouted him as recently as Thursday, had him hitting 97 mph and sitting at 95 mph.
"It used to be elite-elite stuff,'' said Cherington. "It may just be really good stuff now. But we're confident he has enough stuff to be effective in the role we need him in.''
Originally drafted by Seattle, he spent two major league seasons with the Mariners before joining the White Sox in 2006.
Jacobs, 22, was a standout football player who had a football scholarship at Auburn before signing with the Red Sox as a 10th round pick in 2009.
He began this year at Single A Salem where he had 11 homers and 44 RBI in 81 games and a slash line of .244/.334/.440. before being recently promoted to Double A Portland.