The latest signing for the Kansas City Royals expected to be announced soon is the member no one saw coming. Jonathan Broxton is expected to join the Royals bullpen in 2011, and it’s a move that’s exciting while also confounding fans and sportswriters as to what exactly the Royals are getting. After all, Broxton is a closer and yet he hasn’t been the same dominating force you might remember.
Broxton was once among the elite closers in the game of baseball, and it wasn’t as long ago as you might believe. From 2006-2009, Broxton pitched in 294 games (303.1 innings) and had a combined 2.79 ERA in that time span. He also had 398 strikeouts and 114 walks in that span. Simply put, Broxton looked like he was becoming unhittable.
Then came 2010 when his stuff was suddenly left over the plate. Broxton finished the year with 22 saves, but his ERA ballooned to 4.04, and he seemed to lack the nasty edge he had the year before. He still struck out 73 in 62 innings, but it was a far cry from the ratios of the previous year. Just last season, Broxton was out with injury after pitching in 14 games. His ERA in 2011 was 5.68.
The key is that Broxton signed a one-year deal with the Royals, meaning that this next season is all about reestablishing his value on the open market. Closers make good money. Elite closers make elite money. Broxton has that potential in him and it’s in his wallet’s best interest to get back to that form. Thus, the Royals should expect Broxton to be on his best playing behavior since the entire season is one giant audition for the 2012 offseason.
That’s good news for the Royals who could use another highly motivated yet experienced arm. Given Joakim Soria’s troubles last year and the young state of, well, everyone else, bringing in a veteran pitcher like Broxton on a one-year deal should be a win-win for everyone involved.