The Reds re-sign Jonathan Broxton to a three-year, $21 million deal

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UPDATE: Yes, it was close to Brandon League’s deal. Ken Rosenthal reports that Broxton is getting three years and $21 million guaranteed. The salaries climb, paying him $4 million in 2013, $7 million in 2014, $9 million in 2015 and either a $1 million buyout or a $9 million option for 2016.

That may seem crazy for a guy like Broxton, but I bet that becomes the going rate for adequate-but-not-spectacular closers here pretty soon.

1:25 AM: CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Reds and Jonathan Broxton have come to terms on a multiyear deal that is set to be announced Wednesday.

It’s expected to be a three-year pact, and one imagines it’ll come in close to Brandon League’s three-year, $22.5 million deal with the Dodgers.

The plan appears to be for Broxton to step into the closer’s role, with Aroldis Chapman joining Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey in the rotation. Mike Leake would work in relief.

It’s a switch with tons of upside, but also with plenty of risk. Of the three biggest relief-to-starting conversion stories last year, only one paid off: Chris Sale with the White Sox. Daniel Bard was a bust for Boston, and Neftali Feliz got hurt in Texas and needed Tommy John surgery.

And then there’s Broxton. He was a perfectly effective reliever with the Royals and Reds last year, amassing a 2.48 ERA in 58 innings. However, his margin for error certainly isn’t what it was. During his first five years with the Dodgers, he averaged at least 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings every season, topping out at 13.5 in 2009. Last year, he was all of the way down to 7.0 K/9 IP.

Personally, I’m all for taking the chance on moving Chapman to the rotation. Still, I would have gone in a different direction for a closer replacement. Re-signing Ryan Madson to a one-year deal would have been the better move.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.