The Red Sox accomplished their top priority of the offseason on Tuesday morning, acquiring righty setup man Tyler Thornburg in a trade with the Brewers, team president Dave Dombrowski announced.
Travis Shaw, who was Boston's primary third baseman in 2016, will move to Milwaukee in the deal. The Red Sox are also sending two prospects -- shortstop Mauricio Dubon and right-hander Josh Pennington -- as well as a player to be named or cash considerations.
All offseason, Dombrowski mentioned how much the club needed a reliever to pitch the eighth inning in front of All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. On the second day of the Winter Meetings, Dombrowski got his man in Thornburg, who was a stud for the Brewers last season.
Backed by a mid- to high-90s fastball and a plus curveball, the 28-year-old Thornburg notched a 2.15 ERA with 13 saves in 67 games in a breakout '16. In fact, Thornburg handled the closer role for the Brewers the final two months of the season after Jeremy Jeffress was dealt to Texas.
A key component to the deal is that Thornburg is entering his first year of arbitration, which means the Red Sox have his contractual rights for the next three seasons.
With Thornburg expected to earn a salary slightly above $2 million in 2017, the Red Sox should have some money left to acquire a bat -- preferably a left-handed hitter. Free agent Pedro Alvarez is a name that has come up on the rumor mill.
Dombrowski said the Red Sox would like to stay below the luxury tax, which would likely preclude the club from signing a big-name free agent like Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista.
The acquisition of Thornburg all but closes the door on the Red Sox re-signing 41-year-old Koji Uehara, their World Series hero from 2013 and a key piece of the bullpen for four seasons. Free agent Brad Ziegler is also expected to move on.
Shaw beat out Pablo Sandoval for the starting third-base job last Spring Training and had a hot start, but he went cold down the stretch. The left-handed hitter hit .242/.306/.421 with 16 home runs and 71 RBIs in 145 games for the Red Sox, and he brings another left-handed bat to the Brewers' right-handed heavy lineup.
Dubon was Boston's No. 12 prospect on MLBPipeline.com's 2016 midseason re-rank. He hit .323/.379/.461 with six home runs, nine triples and 31 doubles in 124 games between two Minor League levels in 2016, reaching Double-A. He enters the Brewers' Top 30 Prospects list at No. 9.
Pennington, who had been Boston's No. 22 prospect, was 5-3 with a 2.86 ERA in 13 starts for Class A Short-Season Lowell in 2016.
Thornburg has a 2.87 career ERA in 144 Major League games (10 starts) in five seasons with Milwaukee.
The Red Sox selected Shaw in the ninth round in the 2011 Draft, and he made it to the Majors in '15.
In 210 games, Shaw had a slash line of .251/.312/.442, with 29 homers and 107 RBIs.