The Cincinnati Reds have reached an agreement with reliever Jonathan Broxton on a multi-year contract, sources told Jon Heyman. Broxton is expected to serve as the closer in Cincinnati and his contract is believed to be at least three years in length. This deal enables the Reds to shift Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation. Broxton’s contract could be announced as early as today.
Broxton saved 27 games for the Reds and Royals last season, but served mainly as a set-up man once he was traded to Cincinnati. The 27 saves were the second-highest total of his career. Though he once possessed an overpowering fastball, Broxton’s velocity has dipped in the past two seasons and his strikeout rate has fallen from over 11 batters per nine innings in his first five seasons to just seven per nine since 2011. Despite the dip in strikeouts, Broxton pitched to a 2.48 ERA last year.
The decision to convert Chapman is one that will be hotly debated. The flamethrower has dominated major league hitters since joining the Reds and has been used strictly in relief. Coming over from Cuba, however, he was always viewed as a starter and Cincinnati plans to give him every opportunity to become one. Their belief is that 200 innings of Chapman is far more valuable than 70.
Broxton may no longer throw a triple-digit fastball like Chapman does, but, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Inquirer noted on twitter, Chapman saved 38 of 43 opportunities last season. Francisco Cordero converted 37 of 43 in 2011. There are no style points awarded; saves are either converted or blown. Broxton is a guy that has experience closing games. There is no reason to think he can’t convert a similar number of chances going forward.