Considering that it was a much-ballyhooed secret going into Spring Training, the saga of Aroldis Chapman‘s conversion to starter ended rather abruptly and without much fanfare — all it essentially took was for the fireballer to say so, and the next thing he knew, he was back as the Cincinnati Reds‘ closer.
That means Jonathan Broxton can now say he’s one of the highest-paid setup man in baseball, having signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the team in the off-season.
With that in mind, the righty seems reasonably accepting of having the spotlight taken away from him. Speaking to John Fay of Cincinnati.com, Broxton says that he doesn’t care when he ends up pitching, “as long as [the Reds] get the win.”
And that will likely happen a fair bit in 2013. The Reds getting Broxton back in the eighth should give them as good of a one-two punch to close out games as there is in baseball. No, the righty isn’t the guy who use to throw in the upper-90s with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but 2012 was a resurgent year for the former closer.
He’d put up numbers with the Kansas City Royals (2.27 ERA over 35.2 innings), but it was really with the Reds that he found another step, compiling a 2.82/1.03 ERA/WHIP over his final 22.1 innings with a career-best 6.67 K/BB.
Would he have been a dominant closer? That’s questionable, especially when he isn’t striking out guys like he used to (8.06 K/9 for the Reds in 2012, 6.98 overall). As a setup man though, he’d be a reliable option.
While it’s been quite a journey for the 28-year old who has played the former closer-turned-setup-man game more than a couple of times over the last couple of seasons, his only goal now is on getting to the World Series. “I want a ring,” Broxton states simply. “Whatever it takes for that, I’m all in.”
That’s the kind of team-first attitude that’s come to define this whole bullpen saga, really.
There’s Chapman, a top closer whose arm would be that much more valuable in the long run as a starter, taking the initiative in saying that he wanted to be back where he already succeeded and leaving a whole lot of earning power on the table.
His move allows the Reds to solve the problem of what to do with Mike Leake, and with Broxton being part of the bullpen solution in the eighth, the team is arguably better fitted to compete now.
Sure, it might end up being a short-sighted decision for both Chapman and the Reds, but the prize of the short term — a chance to win World Series trophy — is worth it, isn’t it?