Two major names hovering around the Reds’ during this young off-season, depending on how you define major. Relief pitcher Jonathon Broxton and center fielder Shane Victorino are two names that Google is considering synonymous with the Reds. And I think that stinks.
The idea of signing a big-name closer for top dollar is an idea more obsolete than writing a paper check and sending it off through the U.S. postal service. Most people today opt for the easier route – automated payments to be deducted from your account, online. Saves you time. Saves you money. Just like not signing a big closer. May not save you any time, but it’ll surely save you coin.
Rumors suggest the Reds are looking to ink Broxton to a multi-year, for a contract, that I’m strictly speculating, would look to be anywhere from $3-4 million a year. Why? Perhaps to liberate Aroldis Chapman. But any fan of this team knows this has been in the works for a while. I don’t think they have to make room for him to move; however, what I do think they’re trying to do is give Skipper Dusty Baker his de facto arm to call upon in the 9th inning. And that’s why this move drives me crazy.
You don’t need “The Guy.” You don’t need an awesome entrance from behind the gate to the blaring sounds of a Metallica guitar riff. You need someone capable of getting three outs in a high-pressure situation. The best teams out there understand as much.
Jason Motte registered 42 saves for the Cardinals last year. He makes just under $2 million. Craig Kimbrel, the NL leaders in saves last year, brought in $590,000 for his efforts. Naturally, this will go up, but another example nonetheless. MLB’s leader in saves, Jim Johnson, made under $3 million last season. Fernando Rodney, the guy right behind him in Tampa Bay, posted 48 saves and made under $2 million.
Now consider the other side of the equation.
Jose Valverde made $9 million last season. He and his 30.38 2012 postseason ERA probably won’t be back in Detroit next season. Heath Bell made a cool $7 mil for the 19 saves he earned last season. If I told you what Francisco Cordero made last year, you may hurt yourself.
What’s the use in paying a closer that kind of money? The Pirates sank $5 million into Joel Hanrahan, who posted the fifth most saves in the NL while his team bowed out early from the NL playoff run. Jonathon Papelbon got $11 million to post 38 saves, only to see the Phillies miss the playoffs as well.
I’m not the first person to ask this question. Is the idea of a distinctive 9th inning closer a thing of the past? Sure it is. An expensive closer is a luxury tax enjoyed by markets like New York, Boston and Philly. Not for small to mid-size markets that need that kind of scratch for a more important position, like, say, lead-off.
Which brings me to Shane Victorino, a 32-year-old who is looking for five years. His OBP in 2012 was .321, a .40 downgrade from Brandon Phillips. He finished the season hitting .245 for the Dodgers.
Signing either of these two wouldn’t be the worst things the Reds can do. In fact, Broxton would be great in a role similar to his last year. But in a market where there actually is a bottom dollar, I think this kind of cash can be spent more effectively. The Reds had the best bullpen ERA in 2012. That had a lot to do with more guys than Aroldis Chapman.
Agree, Disagree? Let me know why. @GroteT