85 to 100

Royals re-sign Master Chen

WRITTEN BY GREG

Some moderately interesting news on the free agency front as it relates to the Royals.  First, KC retained the services of Bruce Chen, who will figure to keep his spot in the rotation.  Secondly, General Manager Dayton Moore signed All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton away from the Dodgers.

CHEN

The front office announced early on Wednesday before Thanksgiving that they would offer Chen arbitration, which was a no-brainer considering the crafty lefty was not only their best starter from a year ago (12-8, 3.77 ERA), but he had also qualified as a Type B free agent.  For those of you not familiar with what that means, I will attempt to summarize in one paragraph.  Here goes:

A Type A free agent (by way of prior performance) may sign with any team.  If they are offered arbitration by their current club, they can choose to accept the offer, decline but head to arbitration to receive more from their former club, or outright refuse.  Should they refuse and sign elsewhere, the signing team generally must forfeit a #1 draft pick to the club the player is departing from, but this isn’t always the case.  A Type B free agent is just a tick below this.  Should they refuse to accept arbitration and sign elsewhere, the team that lost him obtains a “sandwich” pick, or a compensatory selection between the 1st and 2nd rounds of the next year’s draft.

So, if Master Chen had declined the Royals offer of arbitration and gotten signed by another team, the Royals would essentially have another 1st round pick to do with what they pleased.  Given the Royals’ recent success in the draft, I would have been completely happy with this.

But, instead, Moore signed Chen to a 2 year, $9.0M deal with $1M bonuses based on making the team and other performance levels.  Still, I am happy to have the Chinese-Panamanian slinging 85 mph fastballs and an assortment of junk from a variety of arm angles.  Why?  Because he’s been effective.

Sure he can get kicked around a little by patient offenses like Boston and New York, but AL Central teams (particularly the Twins and especially the White Sox) were held in check by Chen.  He has the ability to deliver 200 innings of sub 4.00 ERA ball.  It fits right in with what the Royals need, a veteran starting pitcher who happens to soft toss in front of a flame-throwing bullpen.

So to put a grade on it, I give it a B+.  I like what Chen offers as the new-age Jamie Moyer, but I think the price was a tad steep.  The 2nd year is also slightly puzzling and it creates a logjam of #3-#4 type starters.  But what else is new?

BROXTON

  Jonathan Broxton has been a dominant right-handed reliever just as long ago as 2009.  Our very own Bristol, a life-long Dodgers fan, affectionately calls him the “S.S. Broxton”, not due to any nautical history in his family, but because he is as big as an aircraft carrier.  He’s listed at 300 lbs, which may or may not be accurate.

Regardless, his output for the first 4 years of his career were phenomenal.  From 2006 to 2009, his K/9 was 11.8 versus a BB/9 rate of 3.4.  His H/9 of 6.8 is also outstanding.  Then 2010-11 happened, and though hurt, the luster of the aircraft carrier started to wear off.  He only saved 29 games over those 2 years due to ineffectiveness and injury.

For a 1 yr – $4M deal though, Moore figured it was a good risk to take and see if Broxton can regain his form.  In the recent past, Moore has done quite well in reclamation projects like Melky Cabrera, Jeff Francoeur, Octavio Dotel, and Scott Podsednik.

If he can return to something like 65 games, 65 IP, 9.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 2.65 ERA type season, he will be very valuable.

Grade:  B-.  I need to see that he’s healthy and what impact he has when his girth is placed at the end of the bullpen.   It is fairly low risk and he might be a “flip” candidate at the deadline to a contending team hungry for a proven closer.

IMPACT

Chen’s re-signing adds some certainty to the 2012 rotation (and in turn, the 2013 rotation).  He joins Luke Hochevar, Felipe Paulino, and Jonathan Sanchez.  Danny Duffy, who previously was thought to be a lock, may have to duke it out with Aaron Crow, Luis Mendoza, and others.

His extra year might be trade bait at then 2012 deadline or in the offseason too if guys like Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, Will Smith, Chris Dwyer, and others force their way into the rotation.  I’m not sure what a team would pay for a year of Chen, although Ozzie Guillen probably would take him.

Broxton’s addition to the roster immediately causes a slight problem:  The 40 man roster is full.  Targets to drop off might be Sean O’Sullivan, Jeff Bianchi, Clint Robinson, and Derrick Robinson.  Since I don’t see any future for Derrick Robinson in CF, I would suspect he gets dropped, but it wouldn’t shock me if none of these players are the one to be released.

In the longer term, Broxton will certainly set-up for Soria along with Greg Holland.  That pushes Aaron Crow out, but I would think even longer term, Crow will again be groomed for starting in the bigs, with Omaha his likely destination this spring.

The bullpen would consist in order from top to bottom:  Soria, Broxton, Holland, Coleman, Collins, Wood, Laffey/Teaford.  If Broxton’s elbow holds up and he doesn’t get his fill of ballpark franks and nachos in the bullpen, that is simply NASTY coming in for the 7th.  Holland was unhittable in 2011, and if he hands off to an S.S. Broxton throwing in the upper 90s who then hands off to 2010 Soria, it is lights out.

Can’t wait for Spring Training to start!

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~ by goetgre on November 29, 2011.

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