The Royals, to the surprise of many, signed reliever Jonathan Broxton today to a one-year deal. On its own, it’s a bit out of nowhere, but powered by Twitter and messageboard discussion, the signing has taken on a life of its own.
Let’s check out a few reactions first, then let’s join the crowds as we speculate on what comes next.
First, FanSided’s Joe Soriano at Call to the Pen wrote a piece about the move:
A few other reactions from Twitter and around:
And Jeff Passan (who said he “love, love, love(d)” the deal)
I’ve always been a Broxton fan. Anybody with his kind of strikeout potential can have a spot in a bullpen. For the Dodgers, he went from being one of the best setup men in baseball to taking over their closer’s role.
After a stellar 2009, he dropped off in 2010 and lost most of 2011 due to injury and a case of lost command. He’s not without risk, as questionable usage in Los Angeles by Joe Torre and his size could mean he doesn’t rebound at all. But he’s a risk worth taking, especially for the $4 million price tag – this Royals team has plenty of payroll space to take a gamble. Consider Broxton as a very big lottery ticket. If he hits, the Royals could have something.
The next step is what has everyone talking. Do the Royals now look to trade Joakim Soria? Does this foretell Aaron Crow‘s ascent to the starting rotation? Dayton Moore has already stated that Broxton will set up Soria and that Crow will get a chance to start in 2012. Now, as Rany points out, the Royals have overloaded an area where they were already strong. With solid rookie seasons from Greg Holland, Louis Coleman, Crow and even a good year from Blake Wood, the Royals have plenty of talent in the bullpen.
So why build that up even more?
For one, you can never have enough talent. Injuries, regressions – they always pop up.
Now, as the Royals head towards the winter meetings next week, they have plenty of bullpen help for any teams that may come calling. They have flexibility to make a move. Maybe that means Soria is on the move. Maybe it means Broxton ends up the closer. Maybe all it means is that the Royals have another arm capable of hitting triple digits.
Broxton signed for one year, so the Royals aren’t locked down, and if he shows he can still shut down rallies, by July, the Royals could have either Broxton or Soria available for contending teams at the deadline. Considering that many Royals fans were comfortable with the idea of trading Soria before the signing, if they traded both Soria and a renewed Broxton, would anyone be surprised if Coleman, Holland or perhaps even Kelvin Herrera closed for a while and had success?
As for Crow, he’s stated that he thinks he can start and doesn’t need to change much of his approach. I still want to see more of a third pitch, as he’s almost exclusively a fastball/slider pitcher, but he can strike people out and gets grounders, so he has value as long as that’s the case. If he doesn’t cut it in the rotation, the Royals still have the option to put him back in the bullpen.