Royals trade Broxton to Reds for two minor-league pitchers
Royals acquire two minor-league pitchers in exchange for closer.By BOB DUTTON
The Kansas City Star
The Royals, until the end, held steady to their demand for a ready-now starting pitcher in return for veteran closer Jonathan Broxton before settling Tuesday for the best-available deal — two minor-league pitchers — just before the 3 p.m. deadline.
“We tried to focus on bringing back a starting pitcher who could be in our rotation today,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “Or if not today, certainly next year. It just didn’t materialize for us.”
That led the Royals to Cincinnati for a trade that returned Class AA right-handed starter J.C. Sulbaran and Class AAA lefty reliever Donnie Joseph. It was the Reds’ agreement to part with Joseph that produced an agreement.
“We get two pitchers that we like a great deal,” Moore said. “They’re at the upper levels, and we targeted close-to-ready major-league pitching as we possibly could. It was the deal that made the most sense and put us in the best position to move forward.”
Joseph, 24, will be assigned to Class AAA Omaha but looms as a likely late-season promotion. He was a third-round pick in 2009 and has split time this year at Class AAA Louisville and Class AA Pensacola.
“He’s a dominant left-handed pitcher,” Moore said. “(He’s) a big kid with good angle and power to his stuff. He doesn’t walk a lot of guys, and he strikes a lot of guys out.”
Joseph is 8-3 overall this season with a 1.72 ERA in 44 games, including 4-1 and 2.86 in 18 games at Louisville.
Sulbaran (pronounced (SOOL-buh-ron) played with Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer in 2008 at American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla. He will be assigned to Class AA Northwest Arkansas after going 7-7 with a 4.04 ERA in 19 starts at Pensacola.
“He gave me a state championship my senior year,” Hosmer said. “He’s a guy with a real clean arm motion. After facing King Felix (Seattle ace Felix Hernandez) the other day, he’s got a lot of tendencies like him.
“He’s a great young pitcher that’s going to help this team in the near future.”
Sulbaran, 22, was the Reds’ 30th-round pick in 2008 but received a $500,000 signing bonus to turn down a scholarship to Florida. The Royals selected Hosmer with the third overall pick in that draft.
Several clubs inquired about Broxton, a pending free agent who compiled a 2.27 ERA in 35 appearances with 23 saves in 27 appearances. He is owed about $1.5 million on the one-year deal he signed last November as a free agent after seven years with the Dodgers.
A deal with Texas fell through when the Rangers declined to part with right-hander Justin Grimm, who is currently at Class AAA Oklahoma City after making his big-league debut earlier in the season.
“Everything that was going on was Texas, Texas, Texas,” Broxton said. “But Cincinnati jumped in at the last second and got me. I’m just going to go over there and, hopefully, we can win a division over there.”
The Giants, Orioles and Mets also expressed interest in Broxton.
“We would have been more than satisfied in keeping Jonathan here and keeping him as our closer for the next two months,” Moore said, “but we found a deal that we felt made perfect sense for us and what we’re trying to do going forward.”
Manager Ned Yost said right-hander Greg Holland will replace Broxton as the Royals’ closer. Holland served as the closer late last season when an injury sidelined Joakim Soria in the final weeks.
Holland, 26, struggled early this season before being diagnosed with a bruised left rib. He is 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA overall in 41 appearances but has a 2.16 ERA in 34 games since returning from the disabled list.
“We feel his stuff is all the way back to where it was last year when he was really successful,” Yost said. “We’ll give him the opportunity to close games out.”
Broxton moves from the last-place team in the American League Central to the first-place team in the National League Central. He also provides a power right-hander to a bullpen that includes lefties Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall.
“They said I would pitch late,” Broxton said, “but they didn’t say anything (specific). They’re very deep in the back end. Hopefully, I can go there, fit in and we can come away with some victories.”
Broxton was an All-Star in 2009 and 2010 with Los Angeles before missing most of last season because of an elbow injury that eventually required surgery in September to remove a bone spur and other loose bodies.
The Royals originally signed Broxton, for $4 million, to serve as a setup reliever for Soria, but that changed when Soria suffered a torn elbow ligament in spring training that subsequently resulted in Tommy John surgery.
“I felt great,” Broxton said. “I wasn’t supposed to close, but Soria got hurt, and I stepped in and threw the ball fine. My arm felt fine.”