Is Jonathan Broxton Tradeable?

September 30, 2010 at 10:37 am | Posted in Jonathan Broxton | 51 Comments

Of all the big stories we’re going to deal with this winter, none might be bigger than the fate of Jonathan Broxton, who’s due to make $7m in the second year of a two-year deal. Though I’ve been a regular defender of Broxton, I’d be completely okay with moving him. That has less to do with his performance than it does with my feeling that relievers are generally so replaceable that only the absolute top-tier are worthy of that kind of salary, particularly on a team with well-known payroll issues.

Until June 26, 2010, Broxton was one of those “top-tier” guys, earning every bit of his salary. After that; well, you know. We’ll get back to that in a second. More important for this discussion is, is there really any sort of trade fit this winter? You can stamp your feet all you want and claim “he has to go”, but regardless of whether I agree with that or not it won’t matter if there’s not a destination for him and an adequate return.

Any team that would take Broxton on would have to fulfill four requirements. #1, they’d need to have hopes of contending next year, since bottom-feeders certainly aren’t going to give up assets for a guy entering his walk year. #2, they’d need to have a healthy payroll, in order to fit most or all of Broxton’s salary. #3, they’d need to have something decent to give back, since you can’t just throw away someone who’s been as successful as Broxton’s been for nothing. #4, they’d need to have a need in the bullpen.

It’s hard to find a good fit.

Let’s eliminate the obvious teams who won’t even be in the conversation. Washington, Florida, Houston, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Arizona, Baltimore, Toronto, Kansas City, Cleveland, & Seattle have little hope of contending next year. The other NL West teams all have set closers, and a trade within the division is unlikely anyway. That’s 15 teams out of the way, and 14 more to get through.

New YorkMariano Rivera is obviously the man there (yes, he’s a free agent, but no chance he leaves), and they’re more likely to spend their money on Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford/Jayson Werth, resigning Derek Jeter, and bolstering a suddenly faltering rotation.
Boston – Already have Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard. Papelbon may hit the market, which would only hurt Broxton’s value.
Tampa Bay – Are about to lose Rafael Soriano, but they’re going to need to cut payroll, not add.

Chicago – The Sox are full of talented bullpen arms, from Bobby Jenks and Matt Thornton to Chris Sale and Sergio Santos. Kenny Williams and Ned Colletti certainly have a history of making deals, and Williams is far from predictable, but their offense is brutal and they have bigger concerns than the bullpen.
Detroit – Here’s our first interesting situation. Jose Valverde is under contract and in no danger of losing his job, but the Tigers have money to spend and are looking for bullpen help. Detroit’s a possibility.
MinnesotaMatt Capps is under team control, Joe Nathan will be trying to come back, and their payroll is already at historic levels for them.

Anaheim – With Brian Fuentes gone, Fernando Rodney is the incumbent, so the Angels could be looking for relief help, but trades between the Dodgers and Angels are extremely rare.
Oakland – Already has a talented bullpen, and generally wouldn’t pay this much for another arm.
TexasNeftali Feliz just set a rookie record for saves, and each one makes it less likely that he moves back to the rotation. With Lee a free agent, they’ll likely focus more on the¬†starting pitching¬†and first base.

Atlanta – The Braves have several young arms making waves, like Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, and a limited payroll. Their big concern this winter has to be bats, with big holes in the middle of the lineup.
New York – Still on the hook for Francisco Rodriguez, and they’ve got far bigger concerns and payroll issues of their own.
PhiladelphiaBrad Lidge and Ryan Madson are under contract for next year, and can you really imagine the Phillies wanting to import Broxton after his history there?

ChicagoCarlos Marmol‘s job is secure, and the Cubs may not have a lot of free cash thanks to their many big-ticket obligations.
CincinnatiFrancisco Cordero is signed for next year, though was less than dominant this year. Aroldis Chapman may or may not return to the rotation. I suppose this is possible.
St. LouisRyan Franklin has been waffling on his intentions to retire, but even if he does the Cardinals have to worry about finding the money to pay Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter, among other needs. (First person to suggestion a Broxton-for-Colby Rasmus deal gets banned from the site forever.)

So Detroit seems like the only real possibility, with lesser cases to be made for Cincinnati and St. Louis. Some teams could use Broxton as a setup man if not a closer, but few will pay $7m for an 8th-inning guy. In addition, the relief market is flush with talent this year, full of arms who may be had for less and didn’t melt down for the last three months. Soriano, Joaquin Benoit, Jon Rauch, Scott Downs, Kevin Gregg, and many others are out there, potentially offering less risk and more value.

Let’s say, for the moment, that Detroit has interest. What kind of deal could be made? I’ve always liked Ryan Raburn, who plays six different positions and can rake. But is a utility man worth a guy who was one of the top closers in baseball up until June? I’m not sure that it is. Otherwise, the Tigers are full of players untouchable (Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander), overpaid (Carlos Guillen), or headed into free agency (Brandon Inge, Gerald Laird, Jeremy Bonderman).

From this point of view, a Broxton trade seems unlikely unless the Dodgers eat a good portion of the cash or don’t get much back, and in that case, what’s the point? Besides, it’s not as though the Dodger bullpen isn’t full of their own questions for next season. The only two relievers you can put any faith in are Hong-Chih Kuo and Kenley Jansen, and even then you’re talking about a guy with a fragile arm and a guy who’s been pitching for just over a year. Beyond them, can you depend on Ramon Troncoso? Ronald Belisario? It’s hard to say that you can.

That’s not to say that you can necessarily count on Broxton, either. He was ungodly horrible after June 27, ending a stretch in which he’d been asked to throw 99 pitches in five days. It’s unfair to review his season without noting how incredible he’d been up to that point, however (48/5 K/BB). He claims he’s not hurt, and though his velocity is down, he’s still in the mid-90s. Besides, for anyone who claims that Broxton’s lousy second-half means he’s irreparably damaged… may I remind you of how Chad Billingsley bounced back this year from his terrible finish to 2009? A winter of rest, a better exercise program, and a season away from Joe Torre, could really do wonders here.

Look, if there’s a good deal to be had for Broxton. I’m not against it. I’m just not sure that there is, and he’s too valuable to be given away for mere peanuts.


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  1. You make a lot of wonderful points—all logical. Its hard however to get behind a guy who lost more games against the Giants in one year than anyone else in team history. Yes it’s illogical and I know wins generally don’t matter but I just can’t back the guy. Kuo is not the answer, Jansen may be. I don’t offer a lot of solutions, just my frustration over his disappointing year. And I am
    aware that Torre is in part to blame. I hope that mattingly, the Winter break and a fresh outlook will help a guy I think we are stuck with.

  2. How about Broxton and Loney to Milwaukee for Fielder?

    • Brewers are going to be asking for a lot more for Fielder. I thin they would want more of Billingsley, Loney, prospects for Feilder in my opinion.

  3. I have no interest in Broxton being moved, but I would like him working on a change of pace pitch during the winter. But just for giggles, I think that the Cubs would be the better trading partner as they would love to shed payroll and taking Broxton and moving a bad contract could benefit both teams. The Dodgers could use another power bat and Rameriz could fit that role. Injuries and horrible splits make this a big risk but your not going to fix the 3B problem playing it safe. This would cut the Cubs payroll and add a power bat to the Dodgers.

  4. Should Houston, Milwaukee and Toronto have been eliminated so quickly? I don’t know about their situations, but I would have at least run them through your Way-Forward Machine.

    I’m not sure even Arizona is out of the question for a team that would at least be curious.

    • I could have probably been clearer, but I included Houston & Milwaukee not only because I don’t think they’ll contend, but because they’re not good fits. Houston just became the first team in 18 years to have two relievers with 20 saves (Lindstrom & Lyon), and they’re both under contract for next year.

      Milwaukee’s got John Axford as a solid closer and huge rotation holes.

      I suppose Toronto could lose most of their bullpen to free agency this year, but they don’t seem like the type to go after Broxton to me. You could make the case, though.

      • And Baltimore has been playing well the second half. They might not be out of the question either.

        • I doubt it, though. They’re not gonna pay the salary, nor the future talent just to MAYBE finish .500 next year.

  5. I wonder if Broxton could be converted to a starting pitcher. Ignoring the fact you would be spending $7 million on a completly unknown fifth starter.

    • I doubt it. Half his problems have stemmed from when he’s had to pitch too much. Can’t make that move now.

  6. Not sure Atl should be eliminated as a destination just yet. Wagner swears he is retiring, Saito is a FA and hurt, plus Brox is from GA and the Braves might like the idea of a local. They would want LA to take back Lowe or Kawakami, which should not be accepted, but I wonder if there are some other possible player fits.

    • I agree with you, but that brings up an interesting thought. I bet if you asked the casual Dodger fan if they’d trade Broxton for Lowe, it’d be 95% in favor of it. “DERRRR, 16 WINS!”

      • Lowe knows how to win and IMO he earned the 4/$36M deal the Dodgers gave him, but it is just over for him and he has a ton of money left on his deal. In looking at ATL’s 40 man roster, I don’t see any glaring trade fits (realistic that is), although Infante is intriguing for 2B with a good OBP and a OPS+ of 111.

      • I know we have discussed this before, but I still feel that Atlanta is the perfect landing spot for Broxton. Kimbrel could be the answer and Venters is the flavor of the month, but Broxton gives them something they have not had since Mark Wohlers, a young shut down closer. Sure, Broxton is expensive, but he is also a rental and is worth two first round draft picks which gives both Kimbrel and Venters time to make sure they are the real thing.

        Plus, given the Braves hole at short (Gonzalez is not the answer), we could package Furcal (and some salary savings for the Braves) for a couple of their youngsters like Freeman and Vizcaino.

        • The braves are not going to trade Freeman. He is their 1b for the future. I could see the braves being interested in Kemp and Broxton with Jair Jurrjens being the starting piece for the braves.

          • I figure Freeman is a pipe dream, but I never thought the Rangers would deal Justin Smoak. Not comparing Broxton to Cliff Lee, but I have learned that nothing is set in stone when it comes to prospects.

  7. i live in wisconsin –broxton reminds me of one derrick turnbow. while broxton seems to have sustained his success for a bit longer, turnbow was lights out in 04 and 05. he signed a big contract in 06 and just sucked. could still throw hard. couldn’t throw strikes. and couldn’t get anyone out.
    my fear is broxton has turnbowed.

  8. I feel there is no pefect fit for Broxton. The two play off fighting teams for a closer next year would ironically be the Angels and the Dodgers. Unless they split the salary then a team can have him as a set up guy. I would trade anything you can for him cause that price is kinda high for a questionable reliver. Relivers worry me becasue they are hard to predict year to year.

  9. You know who i really want gone? Belisario, tired of him, unreliable



    • Wave, or maybe it should be waive, goodbye to Russell.

  11. The problem with Broxton is that, at least from our perspective, no one can know whether he is salvageable. Maybe Torre over-used him, causing burnout or frustration. Maybe he is injured (permanently or not?). Maybe it is mental (why?).

    Whatever it is, if Broxton could re-capture his early season form, most every team, including the Dodgers, would want him. If he can’t, he is basically through.

    If insiders have a better insight into Broxton’s real issues than we can glean, it will greatly affect his marketability, one way or the other.

    And if Frank’s handling of Manny (for one) is any indication, he is always happy to recover a few million. So, for about half his salary, someone else may be able to take a flyer on Broxton and have it pay off handsomely.

  12. Does it really matter??? If McCourt keeps the team no moved will be made.

    • I meant to say no moved will be made….

      • I hate my IPHONE no moves will be made…..

  13. I wouldn’t move him just to move him, because I do think he will have value and I’m sure nobody feels worse about the end to his season than Broxton himself. Four moves I’d be OK seeing:

    to Mets w/prospect(s) for K-Rod and cash to make up the contract difference.
    to Atlanta for Infante or Kawakami
    to Tampa Bay and pay a chunk of his salary for BJ Upton
    to Angels for Mike Napoli

  14. Hey,

    Great post, but as a long time Jays fan, I would have to agree with the earlier comment that they can/should be considered a fit. They have young SP depth that the Dodgers could use, and can afford the salary. (despite common misconceptions, they have been over $100mill in 3-4 of the last 6 seasons.)

    They might want to lock him into an extension as part of the deal though.

    • Thanks for the comment; it’s good to see knowledgable fans from other teams. Do you think closer is high on the Jays’ list, though? I’m not a huge follower of them, but I would think filling in gaps around Bautista/Lind/Arencibia would be a priority.

  15. The Dodgers biggest problem is they’re pitching coach honnycutt, he’s worthless. Before they get rid of guys, maybe they should get a coach in there that’s worth his weight and then decide what to do with Broxton.

    • I couldn’t agree more.
      When I read this article’s headline I thought of Honeycutt for the first time since Broxton’s issues emerged.
      The problem might be simply that Honeycutt can’t correct a rather minor mental or physical issue.
      There is still a part of me that doesn’t want to give up on Broxton. I think that Torre used and abused him, as he misused and abused the bullpen during most of his tenure.

  16. Broxton should be packaged some lower level minor leaguers to acquire one year of Carlos Beltran from the Mets. Mets have Pagan and/or Fernando Martinez in the wings and would likely eat salary to make the move work financially. Broxton would allow the Mets to either deal K-Rod or agressively look to terminate his last year. Outside of the Mets the Angels are an obvious fit – Kazmir for Brox makes a lot of sense for both clubs.

    • Kazmir may have been the worst SP in baseball this year, though. I’m not interested in him.

      • Their salaries match up. I think the Dodgers, given their tenuoui
        ownership situation and financial issues would prefer one year of
        Kazmir versus three years of Lilly. Might be able to talk the Halo
        into taking Blake in the deal too – Brandon Wood is worth the gamble.

        • Salaries or not, Kazmir is awful. His K’s are down, H/9 and BB/9 up… no thanks.

  17. How about Loney, Broxton, and a prospect to tampa bay for matt garza? and we pay most of their salaries…

    • Garza sucks. No way ANY team would do that.

  18. Last place teams typically don’t require many games to be saved so he is definitely unnecessary in LA! Prepare to watch the Giants pitch themselves to a World Series title!

    • ROFLWaffle

  19. Broxton is the type of project that Epstein likes to take on. Considering there needs to be a total rebuild of the front end of the bullpen for the Sox and considering that Epstein doesn’t like paying relievers much, it has been shown that trades for arms is what Epstein does. Despite all this, I can’t imagine the sox wanting to take on more than 5mil of his contract. If they did take on the full 7 then I can’t imagine them offering up more than Reddick and one lower prospect. It’s more likely that the sox would offer something along the lines of a 5mil commitment, Reddick and two lower prospects. Either way I’d die laughing if I saw Broxton pitch in the AL East.

  20. What has happened to Kemp’s fielding?

    Fielding Stats:

    2006 Los Angeles Dodgers OF 46 33 333.2 70 63 2 5 1 — — — 1.75 .929
    2007 Los Angeles Dodgers OF 91 66 637.0 143 137 2 4 1 — — — 1.96 .972
    2008 Los Angeles Dodgers OF 151 144 1304.1 325 306 16 3 3 — — — 2.22 .991
    2009 Los Angeles Dodgers OF 158 155 1405.1 393 377 14 2 4 — — — 2.50 .995
    2010 Los Angeles Dodgers OF 155 147 1319.0 327 319 3 5 2 — — — 2.20 .985
    Career Totals 601 545 4999.1 1258 1202 37 19 11 — — — 2.23 .985

  21. How about signing Adam Dunn to play first base and supply a big bat in the middle of the order then packaging Loney and Broxton for pitching help? I’d hate to see Loney go, but he’d be marketable and Dunn fills a big need offensively.

  22. I say move him period. Salary dump or trade! The look on his eyes when he faced Philly in the NLCS 09 was that of a scared little boy being bullied.I was surprised he didn’t cry.Same look when he blew it against the Yanks.There needs to be a certain cockyness by closers(Papelbon,Bell,F.Rod,) He just doesn’t have it. He will never put those games behind him as a Dodger.

    • Anyone care to point out the irony in this post? Papelbon and K-Rod now turning into those “scared little boys” just like Brox, don’t even mention how many pitches he threw in that game and days prior and Loney messing up the DP to end the game……..

  23. He clearly lacks V-energy!

  24. Broxton will not be moved in the off-season period. He will be back next year, and will likely be moved before the trading deadline, when he has more value. Nobody is going to move on Broxton now; unless the Dodgers are willing to eat a huge portion of his salary, and that is not going to happen until the Dodgers are either sure he will not regain his old form, or his contract outweighs his usefulness on a non-competitive team. Plus, I have heard that Mattingly still considers him his closer for the next year.

  25. [...] first noted Raburn in my Jonathan Broxton post last week, and thought that Broxton was too high a price to pay for him. That doesn’t mean I [...]

  26. How about joba chamberlain for broxton?!?… Straight up trade

  27. [...] first noted Raburn in my Jonathan Broxton post last week, and thought that Broxton was too high a price to pay for him. That doesn’t mean I [...]

  28. [...] course, his implosion changes all that, and as I detailed last month, I don’t see much of a trade market for him. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t do a [...]

  29. [...] but I think the loss of movement on his fastball was the primary culprit. What can you do with him? I looked at trade possibilities and determined that between his $7m salary and his value being at his lowest that it just [...]

  30. Baltimore is actually an interesting option in the east. Looking at your criteria, they could be a fit. They might be a dark horse to contend for the wild card next season, adding payroll isn’t a problem, their closer situation is unsettled and I would think they have pieces to pull off a trade.

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