The first indication that revealed left-hander Matt Thornton was no longer a Yankee was the chair by his locker had a different number. Instead of Thornton's No. 48, the chair had No. 57 on it.

The number switch was due to the Nationals claiming Thornton off waivers from the Yankees, who did not pull him back. To replace Thornton, Rich Hill had his contract purchased from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

New York signed Thornton to a two-year, $7 million contract in January after losing Boone Logan to a three-year deal from the Colorado Rockies. Thornton split last season with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox, who saved $6 million by declining his option.

Thornton finished his Yankee career 0-3 with a 2.55 ERA 46 appearances. His worst month was May, when he posted a 7.71 ERA in 12 outings, but the rest of the season he had a 1.35 ERA. Left-handed hitters batted .250 against him.

By allowing Thornton to be claimed, the Yankees are saving more than $3 million, and that money could be used elsewhere, possibly to get a starter in time for Friday, when they need a rotation replacement for injured right-hander David Phelps.

Adding Hill gives someone who can start and throw multiple innings. Hill is 24-22 in 183 appearances (70 starts) with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians.

He has not started since 2009 for the Orioles. Hill made four scoreless appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Another reason for Thornton being allowed to join the Nationals besides saving money is that the Yankees think they have organizational depth with left-handed relievers.

"He's thrown almost 25 innings for us this year, and he's done a good job for us, but we felt that with the emergence of some of the young minor-leaguers that we have in our system who are coming really fast, we decided to make the trade," manager Joe Girardi said. "It gives us flexibility for this year and next year moving forward."

Among the names mentioned by Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman were 24-year-old Tyler Webb, 23-year-old James Pazos, and this year's second-round pick, 21-year-old Jacob Lindgren. All three left-handers recently were promoted in the Yankees' farm system.

Webb has made seven appearances with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and has 13 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. Lindgren has a 0.00 ERA through six appearances with Class A Tampa and 30 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings overall spanning 11 outings. Pazos has 29 strikeouts in 28 innings over 20 appearances for Double-A Trenton.