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St. Louis Cardinals trade analysis: Cards acquire Jonathan Broxton from the Brewers for prospect Malik Collymore

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to acquire righthanded reliever Johnathan Broxton from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for outfield prospect Malik Collymore, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The move is a reflection of the Cardinals' depleted bullpen depth. Injuries have left St. Louis thin on veteran relievers and overly reliant on a handful of proven arms that manager Mike Matheny trusts in late-and-close situations.

Matt Belisle landed on the disabled list with forearm inflammation. Belisle's optimism after being placed on the DL belied something serious, as revealed by the Cardinals' decision to place him on the 60-day DL earlier this month. The righty seems unlikely to pitch again while wearing the birds on the bat.

The Cardinals acquired Jordan Walden in the Jason Heyward-Shelby Miller trade to be their setup man. The righty was stellar early in the year, but after a handful of appearances, strained his right biceps muscle in the shoulder area. There was some question whether he would require corrective surgery. But after a second opinion, he opted for rest and rehab. There was some concern after Walden was pulled early from a Memphis rehab-stint appearance on Wednesday. General manager John Mozeliak indicated that it was more due to heat than shoulder health, as tweeted by Stan McNeal on Thursday:

Apparently there is still some question as to Walden's health and ability to pitch effectively out of the St. Louis bullpen. In the last week, the Cardinals have bolstered Matheny's late-inning options with former Miami closer Steve Cishek and Broxton. As with Cishek and Brandon Moss, the slugger the Cards added on Thursday via trade, Mozeliak is betting on Broxton bouncing back.

Jonathan Broxton

Age:  31
Control:  Guaranteed through the end of 2015 with $9 million club option for 2016 ($1 million buyout)
Broxton: Career Stats

Year

G

IP

LOB%

K%

BB%

ERA

FIP

xFIP

fWAR

2005

14

13.2

57.7

32.4

17.7

5.93

2.65

4.27

0.3

2006

68

76.1

82.2

30.3

10.3

2.59

3.13

3.32

1.4

2007

83

82.0

75.1

29.6

7.5

2.85

2.73

2.71

2.0

2008

70

69.0

67.7

30.9

9.5

3.13

2.26

2.90

2.1

2009

73

76.0

73.1

38.0

9.7

2.61

1.97

2.02

2.7

2010

64

62.1

72.4

26.9

10.3

4.04

3.01

3.20

1.0

2011

14

12.2

66.0

16.1

14.5

5.68

5.63

4.67

-0.3

2012

60

58.0

79.2

18.9

7.1

2.48

3.03

3.62

1.1

2013

34

30.2

69.5

18.8

9.0

4.11

4.68

4.50

-0.3

2014

62

58.2

83.0

21.2

8.2

2.30

3.37

3.96

0.7

2015

40

36.2

61.4

23.7

6.4

5.89

3.65

3.07

0.1

Total

582

576.0

73.5

27.5

9.2

3.25

2.98

3.19

10.8

Reliever performance is very volatile because they do not pitch all that often. Broxton is an example of this. In 2015, his peripherals have both improved and worsened. Broxton's strikeouts have gone up, walks have decreased, and homers allowed have about doubled. Throw in a significantly reduced LOB% and Broxton's ERA has ballooned to a ghastly 5.98. Mozeliak is betting that Broxton's ERA will more closely resemble his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) stats over the season's final two months and (hopefully) in October. That would be a good bet to make even if Broxton remained in hitter-friendly Miller Park, but such an outcome seems all the more likely with Broxton called pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium home and throwing with the excellent Cardinals defense behind him. The rest-of-season projections for Broxton demonstrate the likelihood that he will be better moving forward. (Unfortunately, the projections do not forecast K% or BB%, only the flawed K/9 and BB/9.)

Broxton: 2015 Rest-of-Season Projections

System

G

IP

LOB%

K/9

BB/9

ERA

FIP

WAR

ZiPS

21

19.0

74.7

7.99

2.70

3.51

3.73

0.1

Steamer

24

24.0

72.8

8.68

2.92

3.65

3.54

0.1

Depth Charts

24

24.0

73.7

8.33

2.81

3.58

3.63

0.1

Any reliever upgrade in late July is going to be an improvement at the outer-most margins of the win curve. That was true of Cishek. It's even more true of Broxton, who the Cards acquired a week later. The righty probably is not that much better than Miguel Socolovich or Sam Tuivailala over the remainder of the year. But he is a name-brand veteran. And if that means that Matheny is more apt to use him than continuing to lean as heavily on Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, and Seth Maness, the ripple effect is probably worth giving up a prospect.

Malik Collymore

Draft Year:  2013
Draft Round:  10th
Draft Pick:  305th
Minor-League Level:  Rookie (Appalachian League)
Age:  20
Collymore: Career MiLB Stats

Year

League

Level

Age

PA

BABIP

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

2013

GULF

RK

18

60

.364

.228

.267

.333

.600

.105

.288

78

2014

GULF

RK

19

201

.430

.333

.403

.480

.883

.147

.417

154

2015

Appy

RK

20

86

.280

.216

.326

.378

.704

.162

.329

95

Any assessment of Collymore is going to skew more toward scouting than stats. His PA totals during his pro career combine to equal something less than that of a big-league starter over a full season. Nonetheless, Collymore jumped onto a lot of prospect hounds' radars with an excellent line over 201 PAs in rookie ball. Eric ranked him as the 14th-best prospect in the St. Louis farm system in the Future Redbirds 2015 top 25 prospect list, calling him "as physically gifted as any player in the current Cardinal minor league system" and lauding his power-generating swing. The power Collymore flashed in 2014 has stayed in 2015 even if the rest of his batting production has been uneven. It remains to be seen whether he can put his physical package together and evolve into a big-leaguer. If he does, Cardinals fans may well lament this trade for two months of Broxton (assuming Mozeliak stays true to form and does not pay a non-closer $9 million next year by picking up the righty's option).