Reds sign P Broxton to 3-year, $21 million deal

The Reds signed Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million

contract on Wednesday, giving the NL Central champions a potential

closer and a chance to reconfigure their starting rotation.

Broxton came to the Reds last July in a trade with Kansas City

and was part of their push toward the playoffs. He filled in as the

closer when Aroldis Chapman came down with a tired shoulder and had

four saves in six chances overall with a 2.82 ERA, impressing the

Reds.

Now they have the option of turning Chapman into a starter,

which was the plan last season until closer Ryan Madson tore up his

pitching elbow.

The Reds have told Chapman to prepare for next season as a

starter, although they haven’t committed to Broxton as the

closer.

”Nothing’s in stone right now,” assistant general manager Bob

Miller said. ”We told (Chapman) before he left to prepare because

that’s the hardest part – starter. When we talked to Jonathan we

said he was going to be at the back end of the bullpen. What

happens depends on spring training and how things play out in the

offseason.”

Broxton’s deal pays him a $4 million base salary in 2013, $7

million in 2014 and $9 million in 2015. There’s a club option for

another year at $9 million with a $1 million buyout. He also got a

limited no-trade provision. Broxton gets to pick 10 teams each year

that would be acceptable in a trade. If he’s dealt, the club option

becomes a mutual option and the buyout increases by $1 million.

Broxton wanted a multiyear deal so he could settle in one place.

He didn’t insist on assurances he’d be a closer.

”I went into the offseason with an open mind,” Broxton said,

on a conference call. ”I’ve got experience in both roles. Even if

Chapman doesn’t work out as a starter, he can come back in and fill

in as the closer. I’ll be happy to throw the eighth (inning). It

doesn’t matter. You saw what he did last year.”

It’s Cincinnati’s second big decision of the offseason. The Reds

also brought back manager Dusty Baker on a two-year deal.

Cincinnati also would like to upgrade its leadoff spot in the

batting order.

The 28-year-old Broxton missed most of the 2011 season with the

Dodgers because of a bone spur in his elbow that required surgery.

He agreed to a $4 million, one-year deal with Kansas City last

season, starting as a setup man for closer Joakim Soria. He assumed

the closing role in March, when Soria had to have reconstructive

elbow surgery.

Broxton had 23 saves in 27 chances for Kansas City. He was

surprised when the Reds traded for him, looking to upgrade their

setup situation as they closed in on the playoffs.

Broxton’s agent, B.B. Abbott, talked to several teams about a

multiyear deal before deciding to stick with the Reds, who expect

to be a contender. Cincinnati has won the division two of the last

three years, losing in the first round of the playoffs both

times.

The Reds signed Madson as their closer a year ago, giving him a

one-year contract for $8.5 million. There was a mutual option for

2013 at $11 million with a $2.5 million buyout. Madson blew out his

elbow during spring training and chose to become a free agent under

his buyout.

The Reds expressed an interest in keeping Madson while he

continues his comeback from reconstructive elbow surgery. He signed

a one-year deal on Wednesday with the Angels.

The Reds planned to use Chapman as a starter last season, seeing

how his 100 mph fastball fared in his more accustomed role. When

Madson got hurt along with Cincinnati’s two setup relievers during

spring training, the Reds moved Chapman to the bullpen and Baker

eased him into the closing role.

Chapman saved 27 consecutive chances and was 38 of 43 overall in

save opportunities with a 1.55 ERA in 68 appearances. The Reds are

hoping to give him a chance to make the rotation next season.

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