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Tyler Thornburg refuses minor-league assignment

He’ll likely be released soon.

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

As some of the Red Sox were in the midst of some All-Star festivities in Cleveland, back in the team’s front office one of the tasks of the week was to figure out what was next for Tyler Thornburg. The righty and consistently disappointing reliever had his rehab clock run out on Monday, meaning Boston was running out of options with him. They could restart his rehab clock, but that is just delaying the decision for another month and also they need him to be on board with that as well. If that’s not an option, then they either had to put him back on the major-league roster or try to get him in the minors off a rehab assignment. Thornburg has enough service time to refuse a minor-league assignment, and according to Rob Bradford of WEEI that’s exactly what he did.

There is always some confusing when a bad player refuses a minor-league assignment. It seems like people are baffled that a player would do that, but it seems to be a misunderstanding of how much worse minor-league conditions are than the majors. Even in terms of just travel it’s a miserable experience relative to the majors. Thornburg earned the right to say no, and it’s hard to blame anyone for doing so.

That said, as Bradford says the next move for the Red Sox is almost certainly to release him. The only other option, as mentioned above, is to put him on the major-league roster. Boston’s bullpen has a depth problem, but it’s not so bad that Thornburg could be considered a potential help. He needs a fresh start somewhere new if he is to find success at this level. If/when he does end up getting released we’ll have a bit more on his actual tenure, but for now we will just keep an eye on this situation and keep you updated on what comes next.