Granted the title of this post might be slightly exaggerated. However, I think that most within the industry are shocked by this Royals acquisition. As we have seen early on the closer market has been particularly harsh on team's looking to upgrade their closer position. Sure there are several quality options, but those guys are going to cost teams some major cash.
What is shocking is that for several teams Jonathan Broxton was likely an extremely appealing option. For the first four seasons of his career he was a dominating reliever, in 2010 he suffered some hard luck and had an inflated ERA and then in 2011 Broxton spent most of the year on the disabled list. For a team like the Rays, I thought Broxton was a great opportunity to buy low a guy with back end experience.
From a Royals perspective I hadn't even given Broxton much thought. Even after trading for Jonathan Sanchez and signing Bruce Chen the Royals clearly need an upgrade to their rotation before they become a trendy pick to win the AL Central. I expected the Royals to bring in a bench piece or hopefully extend Gordon before Spring Training, but I didn't expect anything of value on the Bullpen front.
Apparently though Dayton Moore, like myself, believes in the philosophy of always needing another arm for the bullpen. Given the inconsistency of even the top relief pitchers in baseball, I'm glad this is the case. Not to mention the Royals could be in need of another arm should Aaron Crow make a smooth transition to the rotation as the Royals are hoping.
*I'm not suggesting that the Royals weren't already planning to move Crow to rotation, but adding a bullpen arm definitely makes loss of Crow in bullpen less of a deterrent.)
Of course there is a train of thought among Royals' fans that makes the Broxton acquisition even more exciting. The Royals added Broxton to fill the role that is about to be vacated when they deal Joakim Soria.
I admit that it seems a little more than coincidental that one night a Toronto Sports writer reports that the Royals are interested in Colby Rasmus, and then the next day the Royals sign Jonathan Broxton. Of course the Blue Jays have also been pretty clear that they are interesting in acquiring a closer. Do I expect a trade to occur? No, but it definitely is fun to speculate.
For now I want to leave it at this, the Royals have improved a strength. The rumor is that they were unhappy with the free agent market for starting pitchers and instead opted to improve what was already shaping to be one of the top bullpens in baseball.
I definitely find it odd that a team in the Royals position will be paying 25% of their payroll to two guys at the back of their bullpen ($6 mill for Soria, $4 mill plus $1 mill in incentives for Broxton), but if Aaron Crow transitions to the rotation as we all hope it will be nice for the bullpen to not be an arm down.
Now Dayton Moore has made it clear that Broxton was brought in to set up Joakim Soria in 2012. I am aware of this, but let's not be naive. Whether or not Moore is planning on dealing Soria, he is going to make this comment. Moore isn't going to say that yes he plans on trading Soria. Get real. Moore's comments on the subject at this point really are meaningless in whether or not you believe the Royals will trade Soria.
Now if you still are someone that believes Dayton Moore's words are the truth, consider that maybe Broxton will be setting up for Soria in 2012. So what happens to the Royals set up men? Crow could be in the rotation, but what about Holland? I could imagine Holland gaining quite a bit of interest in other teams (edit: I just read the Blue Jays are interested in Holland.)
I like the Broxton move. I realize that the bullpen is the least of the Royals concerns this offseason. However, I like the idea of fortifying a strength just in case. The move opens up a lot of options for the Royals and gives them more depth in case Crow and/or another bullpen arm transition to the rotation. There's no such thing as a bad one year deal and $4 million for Broxton isn't going to change my mind even if he doesn't come back from his 2011 injury.