Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/31/12

The Cincinnati Reds acquired right-handed relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for minor-league pitchers Donnie Joseph (LHP) and J.C. Sulbaran (RHP). Broxton signed a one-year deal with the Royals for $5.6 million and has been the Royals closer. He will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Joseph has pitched in relief for the Reds’ Double-A and Triple-A teams this season. Subaran has been a starter for the Reds’ Double-A squad.

The Reds’ acquisition of Broxton was a bit surprising, given the strength of Cincinnati’s bullpen this season. As we profiled last week, Aroldis Chapman has been lights out as the Reds’ closer, posting record-breaking strikeout numbers with his 100 mph fastball and his nasty slider. But Chapman’s not the only Reds reliever having a strong season. Overall, the bullpen has posted a 10.23 K/9, a .79 HR/9, and a .216 batting average against. Walks have been a bit of a problem, particularly for right-handed relievers Logan Ondrusek and Jose Arredondo. Broxton somewhat adds to that problem.

The burly right-hander was having a nice season for the Royals, but is no longer the dominant closer he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2007 to 2009. Broxton’s strikeout numbers — which used to rival what Chapman is doing this year — have steadily declined; his K/9 this season is at 6.31, the lowest of his career. Broxton has gotten his walk rate under control — now at 3.53/9 — after a disastrous season of walks with the Dodgers in 2011. He’s also been much stingier with home runs this season, but that may very well change as he moves from the spacious Kauffman Stadium to the launching pad at Great American Ballpark.

USA Today is reporting that the Reds will use Broxton in the 8th inning to set-up Chapman in the 9th. But a mix-and-match scenario with left-hander Sean Marshall makes more sense. Marshall’s been effective against all batters this season with a 5.75 K/BB and a 2.39 FIP in 38 innings pitched. On the other hand, Marshall hasn’t yielded a home run to a left-handed batter all season and posts a higher strikeout rate and lower walk rate against left-handed batters.

The Reds added to a strength by trading for Broxton. Cincinnati’s bullpen has performed well so far this season, but also been one of the least used ‘pens at only 273.1 innings to date. Manager Dusty Baker will have more flexibility in the later innings to use Broxton against right-handed batters and Sean Marshall  against lefties. That will free up Arredondo, Ondrusek, Alfredo Simon and Sam LeClure for middle relief.

Overall, the Broxton trade may not have been a necessary one for the division-leading Reds, but it makes them stronger down the stretch.


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