Cincinnati — Unable to upgrade their everyday lineup, the Cincinnati Reds instead strengthened the back end of their bullpen Tuesday by acquiring closer Jonathan Broxton from Kansas City for a pair of minor-league pitchers.
Manager Dusty Baker plans to use Broxton as a set-up man for closer Aroldis Chapman, who has dominated while finishing games. Baker said Broxton could be used in save situations when Chapman has pitched several days in a row.
The Reds surged into the NL Central lead by winning 10 in a row before their 11-5 loss to San Diego on Monday night. They’ve pulled it off without first baseman Joey Votto, their top hitter. Votto is expected back in a few weeks.
“We had several deals for position players we looked at, and in the end, we just felt we liked what we had and the deals didn’t make sense for us,” general manager Walt Jocketty said. “So we decided to focus on pitching.
“We said, at the beginning, we were going to try to look for a leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter, bench help or strengthen our pitching, and the position player deals just weren’t right for us. We felt good about adding an arm like Broxton. We’re still going to look at things in August, deals that can be made.”
Broxton expected a trade, but was surprised to wind up with Cincinnati.
“I kind of seen it coming, but I didn’t see Cincinnati,” he said in Kansas City, where the Royals were getting ready to play Cleveland. “But they were real aggressive late is what (GM Dayton Moore) said — that everything that was going on was Texas, Texas, Texas. Cincinnati jumped right in the last second and got me.”
The Reds gave up 24-year-old left-hander Donnie Joseph and 23-year-old right-hander Juan Carlos Sulbaran. Joseph was 4-1 with a 2.86 ERA and five saves at Triple-A. Sulbaran was 7-7 in 19 starts with a 4.04 ERA in Double-A.
Broxton goes from a team last in the AL Central at 41-60 to one with the second-best record in the majors at 61-41. Cincinnati led Pittsburgh by three games at the time of the trade.
“I’m going somewhere where I’m picking up 20-25 games (in standings),” Broxton said. “I enjoyed my time here, but this is part of baseball, so go over there and hopefully we can win a division over there.”
Reds players sat in front of the bank of big-screen television sets in the clubhouse Tuesday watching news of the various trades, hoping they wouldn’t be involved in one of them.