Farewell to Jonathan Broxton


The Cincinnati Reds have shipped Jonathan Broxton to the Milwaukee Brewers for two players to be named later on the last eligible day he could be traded and used on the club’s Postseason roster, should they be eligible.

Acquired by the Cincinnati Reds back on the final few hours of the Trade Deadline in 2012, Jonathan Broxton crafted himself one of the odder Reds careers in recent memory.

Trading for Broxton was general manager Walt Jocketty’s big splash in 2012, giving up prospects J.C. Sulbaran and Donnie Joseph in order to acquire the 300-pound flamethrower. The Reds bullpen had been in flux all season long with Sean Marshall even playing the role of closer for the first month and a half of the year.

With a three-headed monster in the backend of their bullpen in Broxton, Marshall and Aroldis Chapman, the Redlegs were poised for a deep playoff run—until they fell to the San Francisco Giants in the first round. Have no fear though; the bullpen was still set up for dominance. The only change would come in attempting to shift Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation.

It was a plan the Reds had in the works from the day they signed the Cuban commodity. An arm of his caliber would wither away in even the most frequently used of bullpens. With Broxton’s contract set to expire, the Reds were in the market for a closer, and figured that the one they had acquired just a few months earlier would fit the bill.

Inking a deal that would make him $4 million in 2013, $7 million in 2014, $9 million in 2015 and a $9 million mutual option for 2016 with a $2 million buyout, the Reds figured they had their closer for the next four seasons.

In fact, they already had their closer, but his name was not Jonathan Broxton.

It did not take very long for Aroldis Chapman to scrap the idea of being a starter. On his part, the move made sense, considering he could save his arm and continue to electrify baseball by coming out of the bullpen and being clocked at over 100 MPH nearly every time he throws the ball. The move for Broxton to go from the closer’s role to the set-up man was nearly a seamless transition.

As baseball reminds us, things very rarely go according to plan. Broxton would throw in just 34 games in 2013, finishing the year with 4.11 ERA. In late August, he would have surgery to repair a torn flexor mass in his right forearm.

The Reds had invested quite the heavy sum in a reliever they knew very little about, as far as performing in Cincinnati. The former Los Angeles Dodgers flamethrowing closer did not throw the ball at near triple digits anymore.

Heading into Spring Training, Broxton was still not back on the mend. While he was not available to the Reds immediately to start 2014, he first appeared on April 11, having missed just about the first week and a half of the season. Due to the dire circumstances of Aroldis Chapman taking a line drive off the face that nearly ended his baseball career, Broxton was thrust back into the closer’s role.

It took Broxton all the way until May 9 to even give up a run. And then after that, his second run allowed would not come until June 20. His ERA would stay under one until July 31, the final date it was so low.

By all accounts, Broxton has had a phenomenal season. If baseball managers were not so petulant about closers making their All-Star squads, Broxton would have been an obvious choice.

With so much uncertainty on the horizon of where this Reds team will divide their funds, there was simply no way in which they could afford to dish out $9 million for a set-up man next season, no matter how dominant he was. There is little doubt that when healthy, Broxton is still one of the game’s premier relievers, and unlike many other backend of the bullpen arms, could care less when he’s used because he gets that all the outs are important.

Should the Milwaukee Brewers be able to stave off the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates to win the division, they have certainly locked up the backend of their ‘pen. They are getting not only a quality pitcher, but also a quality person.