December 8, 2016 at 7:00 AM
Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski had listed an eighth-inning reliever as a priority this offseason and he appears to have gotten his man, as Thornburg will slide in as one of the top pitchers in the Boston bullpen. Once a notable starting pitching prospect for the Brewers, rated as the 100th prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus before the 2013 season, Thornburg broke out in a big way in 2016. In 67 innings for Milwaukee, the 28-year-old Thornburg pitched to a 2.15 ERA with 90 strikeouts and 25 walks and was worth 2.0 fWAR. Adding to his value, Thornburg is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and will not hit free agency until after the 2019 season. However, he does carry a bit of an injury history, suffering an elbow injury in 2014 that nearly led to Tommy John surgery, but he instead opted to receive a platelet-rich plasma injection, which helped him avoid going under the knife.
Travis Shaw, who played in 145 games at third and first base for the Red Sox last season, headlines the package going to the Brewers and was reportedly the piece Milwaukee inquired about to get trade talks moving. Shaw's major league career got off to a great start, as he hit .270/.327/.487 in 65 games in 2015 and then slashed .292/.358/.508 in the first two months of 2016. However, Shaw slumped mightily from then on, hitting just .206/.270/.362 the rest of the way and losing his starting job in August.
Shaw did not have a clear spot on the Red Sox roster going forward with the return of Pablo Sandoval, reliable presence of Brock Holt, and the potential emergence of top prospect Rafael Devers (and at the time the deal was announced, one would have added Yoan Moncada, who was moved later in the day to Chicago), but he will likely receive everyday playing time in Milwaukee at third base, shifting Jonathan Villar back to his more natural position of second base.
Mauricio Dubon is the most significant prospect heading to the Brewers in this deal, ranked ninth in the SoxProspects.com rankings at the time of the trade. He was named the SoxProspects.com Breakout Player of the Year after a season in which he slashed .323/.379/.461 between Salem and Portland. Though Dubon has shown a strong hit tool since entering the Red Sox organization, he showed improved power last season after his promotion to Portland, where he slugged .538 with 20 doubles, six triples, and six home runs. The Red Sox drafted Dubon in the 26th round in 2013, and should he reach the major leagues, he would be the first-ever Honduran native to do so.