What the Jonathan Broxton Trade Means for the Cincinnati Reds

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2014

Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton throws against the Atlanta Braves in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 5-3. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Al Behrman/Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds surprisingly traded setup man Jonathan Broxton to the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday, and that move will affect the team on the field and in the front office.

Cincinnati will receive two players to be named later from Milwaukee, but regardless of who the team receives in return, it was the right move to make.

There's no denying Broxton has been a big—no pun intended—part of the Reds bullpen since coming over in the middle of the 2012 season. He posted a 2.75 ERA and a 1.095 WHIP in 110 games with the team.

In a season in which the Cincinnati bullpen has faltered, the 30-year-old has been one of the only arms that manager Bryan Price has been able to rely on. Broxton posted a 1.86 ERA and a 1.014 WHIP in 51 games this season. When Aroldis Chapman was hurt or unavailable, Broxton stepped in and recorded seven saves.

Broxton's presence will be missed, but it was a move the team couldn't pass up. Trading away the veteran reliever will result in far-reaching ramifications for the team, both in the bullpen and on the overall roster.


What the trade means for the bullpen

Al Behrman/Associated Press

Trading Broxton means that Price must find a new setup man who can get the ball to Chapman.

The most obvious candidate to fill Broxton's shoes is Jumbo Diaz. The right-hander has impressed this year in his first season in the majors, putting up a 3.24 ERA and a 1.000 WHIP in 26 games. He allowed three runs in his major-league debut, but since then, he has allowed only six runs in 24 innings.

Diaz has a fastball that can hit 98 mph consistently and a strong breaking ball. When he has both pitches working, he is tough to hit.

The emergence of Diaz may have made Cincinnati more willing to part ways with Broxton. The team doesn't have many other legitimate options it can use as a setup man.

Al Behrman/Associated Press

Sam LeCure and J.J. Hoover have both been valued members of the bullpen in the past. However, this season hasn't been too kind to either pitcher. LeCure's 3.69 ERA is the highest it has been since 2011, and Hoover's 1-10 record and 5.27 ERA led to his demotion.

If left-hander Sean Marshall can get healthy and return to form next season, the Reds would have a very good righty-lefty duo to help get the ball to the closer.

Given that Chapman was not going to be converted to a starter, Broxton and his hefty salary became expendable. The move weakens the Reds bullpen, but it will give other pitchers a chance to prove themselves in new roles.


What the trade means for the front office

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 11:  Jonathan Broxton #51 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Great American Ball Park on June 11, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati shut out Los Angeles 5-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sa
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Cincinnati will miss Broxton in the bullpen, but the trade will help the team in a big way moving forward. 

In 2012, Broxton signed a three-year, $21 million deal with a $9 million club option for the 2016 season. Relievers—other than closers—don't normally get that type of money unless they are being given the ball in the ninth inning. At the time the club signed the reliever to the deal, Chapman was supposed to be transitioning to the rotation and Broxton was lined up to be the team's closer.

As we know now, Broxton never became the team's full-time closer as planned.

For the second straight season, the Reds' payroll topped the $100-million mark. That means the team doesn't have much payroll flexibility to add pieces to the roster. That will change this offseason, thanks to the trade of Broxton.

Cincinnati will save $9 million next season as a result of this trade, and it would have owed the reliever $1 million in a buyout after the 2015 season if it chose not to pick up the 2016 option worth $9 million. Assuming that the Reds decline Ryan Ludwick's $9 million option for the 2015 season and pay the $4.5 million buyout, the front office will have some money to work with this offseason.

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Given everyone who is set to become a free agent after the 2015 season, the Reds needed all of the extra cash they could get. Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon are all set to become free agents after next season. Before this trade, it was likely that the team could afford only one of either Cueto, Latos or Leake. Now that Cincinnati has freed up some cash, it might be able to find a way to sign two of the three to multi-year deals.

While that group of pitchers will get all of the attention, fans need to remember that Chapman is under club control through only the 2016 season. The money the club saved on Broxton could go into re-signing the hard-throwing closer.

Cincinnati could also use a bat or two to help the offense. Whether it tries to address that by trading a pitcher or using some of the available cash to sign one in free agency, the team is likely to add someone to boost the offense.

The Reds' front-office staff have some decisions to make. They must figure out which pitchers the team can afford to re-sign, and saving money by trading Broxton's contract should help the front office this winter. 

Trading Broxton hurts the bullpen right now, but it helps the front office in a big way. It didn't seem likely that the Reds would be able to identify a taker for Broxton's contract, but once they found a trading partner, they had to pull the trigger on a deal.

*All stats are via MLB.com