PHILADELPHIA -- The roster retool has begun.
The White Sox traded reliever Matt Thornton and cash considerations to the Boston Red Sox on Friday night for minor-league outfielder Brandon Jacobs.
In the first of what could be many moves this month, the White Sox parted ways with the second-longest tenured player on the 25-man roster.
General manager Rick Hahn also included what a major league source said was a six-figure sum to help Boston pay the $1 million buyout on Thornton’s 2014 club option worth $6 million.
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To trade Thornton -- the franchise’s all-time leader in holds (164) and whose 512 appearances ranks fourth in club history -- wasn’t easy, Hahn said in a conference call.
“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.”
The White Sox engaged in serious talks with seven to eight clubs for Thornton, Hahn said.
Earlier this week, Hahn intimated the White Sox might soon begin to sell off pieces from an underachieving roster. Asked if he thought the 2013 team’s failures might have been about bad luck and if he thought the current roster could contend, Hahn said there was plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise the current team wouldn’t contend in 2014.
What the White Sox received in return for Thornton is “an athletic kid who projects to be a power bat, everyday corner outfielder who still has some development ahead,” Hahn said.
Jacobs -- who bypassed a football scholarship to Auburn University -- entered this season rated as the No. 11 prospect and No. 13 prospect in the Red Sox organization, per MLB.com and Baseball America, respectively.
Jacobs, 22, is hitting .247 with 25 doubles, 11 home runs, 44 RBIs, 46 runs and 10 steals between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland this season.
He has a .246/.334/.444 slash line in 84 games.
Boston drafted Jacobs in the 10th round of the 2009 draft out of high school.
He hit .303 with 17 homers and 80 RBIs at Single-A Greenville in 2011 and appeared to be a star on the rise.
Last season, Jacobs was slowed by a broken hamate bone and hit .252 with 13 homers and 61 RBIs in 114 games at Salem.
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“(Thornton) was a popular guy,” Hahn said. “We settled on a deal we felt brought back a prospect with the highest potential for us.”
Hahn had stated if and when he decided to begin trading off the 25-man roster he had interest in acquiring “high-impact, premium talent.”
The White Sox have scouted and had interest in Jacobs --- who Baseball America describes as having “one of the more intriguing bats in the system” --- for 18 months, Hahn said. While his arrival in the majors is hard to project, Hahn likes what the White Sox are getting in return.
“He’s still young and he’s at advanced level and he’s getting close,” Hahn said.
Thornton was a valuable member of the bullpen.
An All-Star in 2010, Thornton tied a career-high with 74 appearances last season as he helped to guide an inexperienced bullpen through a pennant race. Thornton is 0-3 with a 3.86 ERA this season in 35 appearances.
From 2008-10 Thornton appeared in at least 61 games each season and never finished with an ERA higher than 2.74. Hahn said Donnie Veal would be promoted from Triple-A Charlotte on Saturday to take Thornton’s roster spot.
The GM spoke to Thornton late Friday and said the veteran expressed that he thought he might be traded this season.
“He was like a pro,” Hahn said. “He said when his phone rang, he said ‘Man I don’t know if I want to answer this right now.’ Kind of knew this was coming. We both expressed how this hadn’t been what we had in mind when we left Glendale and he knew he’s going to a place where he had a chance to win.