Cincinnati Reds: What Does Re-Signing Jonathan Broxton Mean for the Future?

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 28, 2012

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 09:  Jonathan Broxton #50 of the Cincinnati Reds on the mound in the 10th inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game Three of the National League Division Series at the Great American Ball Park on October 9, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds acquired Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals at the 2012 MLB trade deadline, and the team is now on the verge of re-signing the veteran.

The reliever was picked up for a couple of prospects, and it ended up paying off for the team. He was mainly the setup man, but also managed to pick up a few saves during the final two months of the season.

On Wednesday, Mark Sheldon of tweeted that the Reds had reached an agreement with Broxton:

Confirmed: #reds sign Broxton to three-year, $21 million contract with $9 million club option for 2016

— Mark Sheldon (@m_sheldon) November 28, 2012

No team in the majors had a better bullpen than Cincinnati, and Broxton's arrival helped solidify the end of the bullpen. Sean Marshall was able to pitch the seventh, Broxton the eighth and Aroldis Chapman shut the door in the ninth. It was as dominant as it gets for a bullpen.

Instead of keeping it that way, it appears the team will once again try to move Chapman to the rotation next season. Broxton will likely become the closer if Chapman switches roles.

So, what could this mean for the Reds for the future?

I have long been opposed to moving Chapman to the rotation, but I decided to look at a potential Broxton signing as a move for the future.

Chapman is signed through 2014 and has a $5 million option for 2015, which will almost certainly be declined. With Broxton being signed to close games, all eyes shift to Chapman in the rotation.

Ownership probably realizes that it won't be able to re-sign the left-hander if it doesn't give him a chance to start. This is its way of giving him a chance to prove himself as a starter, and it could result in signing him to an extension.

Although it would be costly, this is an aggressive risk by the Reds. If he fails in the rotation, it could result in arm problems or inconsistent pitching. If he succeeds, he will be due for a big contract. Moving him to the rotation at this point will just be developing him as a starter for a team like the New York Yankees.

Nobody knows how Chapman will do as a starter in the major leagues. He was brilliant during in the spring of 2012, but that's not a great indicator.

With Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Daniel Corcino all battling for rotation spots for the next few years, converting Chapman to a starter seems unnecessary. However, the team realizes his contract is almost up and is trying to find a way to keep him in Cincinnati. He could end up being a bust in the rotation and decide to sign with the Reds to be the long-term closer.

The 24-year-old will be due for a nice raise by the time his contract is up, so the Reds need to figure out what they can do to keep him. Re-signing Broxton to make him the closer and converting Chapman to the rotation should enhance the team's chances of keeping him in the future.

It also means that Cincinnati will have a two-time All-Star as its closer.

This move would mean the team is almost done with spending this offseason. The Reds did not have much money to spend on free agents, and they could only afford to sign a left fielder or several quality bench players for cheap.

And this is a safer bet than signing Joakim Soria or Ryan Madson, who are both coming off of arm surgeries.

Re-signing Broxton has the potential to make this rotation the best in baseball, but it will also weaken the bullpen. 

Cincinnati made the right move by re-signing Broxton, but he should not be the closer. He was a good pickup at the trade deadline, and now he will have a chance to expand his role. The right-hander gives the Reds a closer who can work consecutive games without worrying about his arm.

The only problem with this deal is the salary. Broxton will make a reasonable $4 million in 2013, but the number jumps to $7 million and $9 million in the following seasons. It seems like an large amount of money to spend for a team that already has an All-Star closer.

Also, it puts left fielder Ryan Ludwick's future with the team in doubt. He already declined his $5 million option, so he will probably be out of the team's budget plan.

It was a great move by the team to keep the pitching staff solidified, but the 2013 season could now be determined by whether or not Chapman can pitch (and be productive) a full season as a starter.

This may be an optimistic view of the situation, but Reds fans should hope that the team is planning on committing to Chapman for the future by re-signing Broxton.