Call the White Sox savvy. Call them stubborn. Or, call them stupid.
For some reason, they like collecting football players hoping they’ll make the transition to baseball.
The White Sox gave it another try late Friday night, trading veteran relief pitcher Matt Thornton to the Boston Red Sox for 22-year-old outfielder Brandon Jacobs.
“He’s an athletic kid who projects to be a power bat, corner outfielder,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said on a conference call. “He’s a toolsy player with upside to be an everyday corner outfielder, and he has an upside that projects to be impact everyday outfielder down the road if everything clicks.”
Jacobs is from Lilburn, Ga., and the 6-foot-1, 225-pounder was all set to play football at Auburn before Boston changed his mind with a $750,000 signing bonus after drafting him on the 10th round in 2009.
In recent years, the White Sox have swung and missed when trying to convert football players to baseball, namely Joe Borchard, Josh Fields and possibly Jared Mitchell. We’ll overlook the Mitch Mustain experiment.
Jacobs, 22, hit .247 with 25 doubles, 11 home runs, 44 RBI, 46 runs and 10 stolen bases in 84 games with Class A Salem and AA Portland this season.
He was promoted to Portland on Thursday and had 2 hits in his first game and another hit Friday before being pulled from the game.
Ranked as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s system by Baseball America heading into the current season, Jacobs has tailed off a bit since hitting .303 with 17 homers and 80 RBI at Class A Greenville in 2011.
As for Thornton, the 37-year-old lefty was 0-3 with a 3.86 ERA in 40 appearances with the White Sox this season.
In 512 career games for the Sox — the most in franchise history — Thornton was 31-35 with a 3.28 ERA and 486 strikeouts in 4631⁄3 innings.
“His level of consistency and excellence over an extended period of time is difficult to achieve, not only in the American League, but in our ballpark,” Hahn said. “There was a time where he was probably the most valuable guy in our bullpen. He didn’t rack up the gaudy save numbers, but he was an important part to many successful White Sox clubs.”
Hahn said seven or eight clubs called about Thornton, and he also said Donnie Veal is coming back up from Class AAA Charlotte to take his spot in the bullpen.
As for more trades before the July 31 deadline, they are likely coming for the White Sox.
“We remain active on a number of fronts, and we’re going to keep talking and see where it leads over the coming weeks,” Hahn said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.