The Cardinals have released veteran reliever Jonathan Broxton. How does this move play out for both Broxton, and the Cards?

On Thursday, the Cardinals released right handed relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton. Let’s take a more in depth look at this move, and what it means both for the Cardinals and Broxton.

Jonathan Broxton

In the first two months of his 13th professional season, Broxton appeared in 20 games for the Cardinals. In those 20 games, he only pitched 15 and two thirds innings. Over that span, Broxton was all but impressive, posting a 6.89 ERA out of middle relief position.

However, Broxton has not always seen this level of ineptitude. In fact, in the early part of his career, he was considered one of the better closers in the league. Broxton posted a 3.19 ERA and amassing 84 saves in three full seasons as the Dodgers’ main closer. Broxton has pitched 676 career innings for five teams, including the Royals, Reds, and Brewers. He has constructed a pretty impressive resume, including a career 3.41 ERA and 118 total saves. 

Recent Struggles

However, Broxton hasn’t assumed the primary closing role since he held that position for the Royals in 2012. After than, he was traded to the Reds for two still-unproven minor league pitchers.

Since then, Broxton has only accumulated 18 saves, none since the second half of 2014 after his shipment to Milwaukee. Over the past five years, Broxton has mostly assumed a middle relief/set up role. If the last three years are any indiction, his effectiveness is indeed slipping.

Posting ERAs in the mid-4s each of the last two seasons for the Cardinals, it seemed Broxton reached an epoch of sorts in 2017, slipping to the aforementioned 6.89 ERA after the first two months. At age 33, the future for Broxton is certainly uncertain, but with a history of production, there is a chance that a struggling team at the bottom of the standings, or a young team in the race, such as the Yankees or Astros, looking for some veteran leadership in the bullpen, may take a chance on Broxton in the coming years, if not weeks.

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The Cardinals

As for the Cardinals, this was a good move. With young right handed relievers such as Matt Bowman just now coming to the forefront, and veteran Trevor Rosenthal finally producing as he’s supposed to out of the set-up role, there really is no need for an aging Broxton.

The Cardinals, however, may want to look for some sort of replacement for Broxton, whether that be in the form of a call up, or in the form of a trade. John Gant, 24 year old right hander was acquired from the Braves in the trade for Jamie Garcia, was just recalled after Broxton’s release. It would be huge if he could provide some big innings as Broxton’s immediate replacement, and quell the need for a potential future trade.

The Cardinals still owe Broxton the remainder of his $7.5 million deal, $3.75 of which is guaranteed to him this year, and the rest in 2018. Regardless of whether or not Broxton signs with another team, the Cardinals owe him this salary, excluding the league minimum owed to him by any team he may sign with.

Conclusion

Over his almost 13 year career, Jonathan Broxton has been a solid relief pitcher. In his early years with the Dodgers, Broxton was considered one of the leagues better closers. However, over the past five or so years, Broxton has lost his spot at the back end of the bullpen.

Showing stark signs of decline, the Cardinals released the 33 year old Thursday, leaving Broxton in an interesting position. Will anyone take the veteran right-hander, now clearly at the tail end of his career? If so, who? And for the Cardinals, despite Broxton’s ineffectiveness, will there be a struggle to find a right-handed replacement to hold down the middle of the bullpen?