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Jonathan Broxton & Street Cred

Of the many newsworthy items in Ken Gurnick's column on regarding the Dodgers pursuing deals for their eight remaining arbitration-eligible players was Jonathan Broxton's agent expressing an interest in a long-term deal:

Broxton's agent, B.B. Abbott, said he's discussing several scenarios for the closer with Ng. Abbott pointed out that multiyear deals include discounts for the club in return for the added risk.

"There's a price to pay for guaranteed money," he said. "If multiyear contracts work, it's for young players like Jonathan who is big, strong, 25, and hasn't been overused."

Broxton made a total of $1.975 million in 2009, including incentives, in his first year of salary arbitration eligibility.  Coming into last season, Broxton basically had just half a season experience as a full-time closer, so he couldn't quite vault into that premium category of relievers with more closing experience.  For instance, Jonathan Papelbon made $6.25 million and Bobby Jenks made $5.6 million in 2009 (thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts), each with the same three years service time last year as Broxton. 

Now, Broxton has another full season as closer under his belt, so he will likely receive more than just a standard arbitration raise, as he jumps up a class into the upper echelon of relievers.  Looking at comparable closers at their time of four years service time, where Broxton is now, one name stood out to me as a very similar player to Big Jon:  Huston Street.

Street had four years of service time last offseason, and signed a one-year deal with Colorado for $4.5 million.  On a one-year deal, that is the number that Broxton should shoot for, and here's why (using Street's stats through 2008):

  • Broxton's ERA is 2.92, compared to 2.88 for Street
  • Broxton's adjusted ERA (ERA+) is 146, just a shade under Street's 149
  • Broxton's Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is 2.54, while Street is at ~2.91
  • Broxton has a lead in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), 8.6 to 7.0
  • Baseball Prospectus has a stat called WXRL, defined as "Expected wins added over a replacement level pitcher, adjusted for level of opposing hitters," and Broxton's 11.824 is eerily similar to Street's 11.856

Street does have the advantage in saves, 94 to 55, since he has been closing for most of his career.  But Broxton stacks up quite nicely in comparison to the Rockies' closer, so something in the $4-4.5 million range sounds about right.  You can knock a little off that salary as a discount should Broxton gain the security of a long-term deal, but we should have a good idea of Broxton's 2010 salary.