While Trent Thornton was a workhorse for the club back in 2019, the tides have turned for the former Houston Astros prospect as he has struggled to find a rhythm in the Major Leagues since his rookie season.
Joining the Jays during the 2018/2019 offseason in exchange for infielder Aledmys Diaz with the Astros, Thornton was the innings-eater the organization needed in 2019, starting 29 games through 32 appearances and pitching 154.1 innings on his way to a 4.84 ERA with 149 strikeouts and a 1.41 WHIP. While the numbers are not eye-popping, Thornton was healthy and was able to pitch deep enough into games and was able to give the bullpen some time off during a season that saw the last remaining veteran players from the 2015-2016 playoff squad head out of town (minus Justin Smoak, he was around til the end of that season).
Since then, the right-hander has battled injuries and has struggled on the mound, appearing in just three games in 2020 while riding the options bus this past campaign, eventually finishing with 37 outings and throwing to a 4.78 ERA.
For the first time in his career, Thornton is eligible for arbitration this offseason, with MLB Trade Rumours predicting a $900,000 salary for the North Carolina product after the past few seasons he has put together with the Blue Jays. There is a possibility that the club could non-tender Thornton if they value the open roster spot instead of spending the $900K but given the low salary he would require, it is more likely he receives a contract offer this winter.
He does have two minor league options available and could keep riding the line between both AAA and the MLB but don’t be surprised if the Jays DFA him to open a spot on the roster, although this will likely only happen if the club gets tight on space come Spring Training. I would say the chances of Thornton being DFA’d are low but not low enough that he is the “safe zone” if you will.