Red Sox land Thornburg for Shaw, 2 prospects

Boston sends third baseman, plus Dubon, Pennington to Milwaukee for reliever

Red Sox land Thornburg for Shaw, 2 prospects

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- 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.

Red Sox Top 30 Prospects list

Red Sox deal for Thornburg

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.

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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.

Thornburg on joining Red Sox

Thornburg and Kimbrel will front a bullpen that also includes righties Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and lefty Robbie Ross Jr. Veteran Clay Buchholz will be part of the mix if he doesn't win a spot in the rotation.

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.

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After posting a 2.15 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP and a 12.1 K/9 rate last season, Thornburg instantly becomes one of the premier non-closers in the Junior Circuit. Setting up for Kimbrel, the right-hander should produce the necessary stats to be a lineup fixture in AL-only formats. Back in Milwaukee, either Corey Knebel (4.68 ERA, 1.47 WHIP in 2016) or Carlos Torres (2.73 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in '16) could emerge as the ninth-inning man.

Brewers, Red Sox trade impact

As the newest member of the Brewers, Shaw walks into an uncertain role. The 26-year-old could help deep-mixed-league teams as Milwaukee's third baseman against right-handers (.762 OPS vs. RHP in '16) if the club moves versatile sparkplug Jonathan Villar to a different position -- such as second base. Meanwhile, veteran Sandoval and utility man Brock Holt should compete for the Red Sox's hot-corner job during Spring Training.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.