Just before Tuesday afternoon’s trade deadline, the Royals traded closer Jonathan Broxton to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for two minor league pitchers, righty J.C. Sulbaran and lefty Donnie Joesph. The Royals were also willing to trade Yuni Betancourt, Jeff Francoeur and Jose Mijares, but Broxton was the only player traded by the deadline.
The Reds lead the National League Central and were looking for a leadoff hitter to bolster their lineup. They weren’t able to get a leadoff hitter, so they made a trade for Broxton, who will join an already strong Reds bullpen as a setup man for lefty closer Aroldis Chapman. Broxton will be at least a two month rental for the Reds before becoming a free agent in the offseason. In return, the Royals get two young, controllable pitchers for the next few years.
The 22 year old Sulbaran is a starting pitcher with a 4.04 ERA, a 9.5 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 ratio and a 2.06 strikeout to walk ratio. Sulbaran pitched 104.2 innings over 19 starts and a 7-7 record for the AA Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Baseball America ranked Sulbaran 12th among Reds prospects, while MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranked him fifth among Reds prospects.
Sulbaran’s best pitch is his curveball. Scouts say he’s a highly competitive power pitcher with good stuff, but there are some concerns about his maturity and secondary pitches. Sulbaran was a teammate of Eric Hosmer at American Heritage High School, winning a state championship during Hosmer’s senior year. The Royals assigned Sulbaran to AA Northwest Arkansas. He projects to be a No. 3 starter, and is likely a year or two away from the Majors.
The 24 year old Joseph is a relief pitcher with a 1.72 ERA, a 11.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 ratio and a 2.44 strikeout to walk ratio. Joseph pitched 22 innings over 18 games with a 4-1 record and five saves for the AAA Louisville Bats. Baseball America ranked Joseph 27th among Reds prospects and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranked Joseph seventh among Reds prospects. He was also the Reds Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2010.
Joseph is a power lefty with a mid 90s fastball, a hard slider and curveball. If Joseph can improve his mechanics, scouts say he could be a power reliever in the Majors. The Royals assigned him to AAA Omaha and it’s possible Joesph could be with the big club this year.
The Royals wanted a Major League ready starting pitcher, but to be honest, giving up Broxton to get Sulbaran and Joesph was a better deal. If the Royals got a Major League starter, they probably would get another pitcher like Sean O’ Sullivan, Vin Mazzaro, Jeremy Guthrie or Jonathan Sanchez. The Royals have enough of these type of pitchers. At least with this trade, the Royals have a potential No. 3 starter and a power lefty reliever for the future.
It’s unlikely Sulbaran and Joseph will be star players and the Royals still need to sign or trade for a front line starter this offseason. But fans should be glad the Royals traded for the pitchers they got for Broxton, who was going to be a one year player for a losing team if he stayed. And it gives Greg Holland a chance to be the closer for the Royals, which is another plus.