SAN FRANCISCO -- The Brewers have found the bullpen help they'd been seeking for two months, and it came from within their own division.
In acquiring Jonathan Broxton from the Reds on Sunday for two players to be named, the Brewers filled a need for a tested right-hander to help set up Francisco Rodriguez, a role that has bounced between a number of different players since Rodriguez was installed as the closer on Opening Day.
Broxton won't join the Brewers until Monday in Chicago, but because he was in the organization before the end of August, he will be eligible for the postseason roster should the Brewers get that far. They entered Sunday on a four-game losing streak, clinging to a one-game lead over the second-place Cardinals and a two-game lead over the third-place Pirates.
"We're playing too well to panic about a few games," said Zach Duke, who finished last season with Broxton in Cincinnati, "but any time you can upgrade the talent on your team, that's good thing."
Broxton, 30, owns a 1.86 ERA and seven saves in 51 appearances for the Reds this season, mostly pitching ahead of shutdown closer Aroldis Chapman. He has stranded 10 of his 14 inherited runners and has kept the opponent scoreless in 43 games, but has struggled some recently. In his last seven games, totaling 6 1/3 innings, Broxton has allowed five earned runs, 11 hits and four walks.
He is signed through the end of next season, with a 2016 option that converted from a club option to mutual the moment he was traded.
The Brewers will owe Broxton $9 million next season, and the 2016 option is also for $9 million, with a buyout that increased from $1 million to $2 million Sunday because he was traded. Broxton, a former closer for the Dodgers and Royals, would be the leading contender to fill that role in Milwaukee next season should Rodriguez depart via free agency.
More immediately, "if our next 30 games are all one-run ballgames, we're covered a little bit," Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said.
After the Brewers won a waiver claim for Broxton, Melvin and Reds counterpart Walt Jocketty had until noon CT to complete their first trade since Jim Edmonds went to the Reds in August 2010. The teams have already agreed upon one of those players, Jocketty said, and the other will come from a list of candidates. Melvin indicated the deal would be complete before the end of September.
The Brewers already had an opening on their 40-man roster, which is now full.
They had been trying to bolster the bullpen for months, with Melvin checking in on a long list of targets including Joaquin Benoit of the Padres, LaTroy Hawkins of the Rockies, Chad Qualls of the Astros, Koji Uehara of the Red Sox and Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler of the D-backs, among others.
Manager Ron Roenicke prefers set bullpen roles, so Broxton figures to pitch mostly in the eighth inning, though Roenicke said Will Smith could continue to see action in that situation when a left-hander is called for. Smith has played a significant role this season in helping the Brewers overcome Jim Henderson 's shoulder injury, Tyler Thornburg 's elbow injury and Brandon Kintzler 's periodic struggles.
"I like the pieces we have in our bullpen but [in Broxton] we're talking about a guy that's a pretty special guy," Roenicke said. "He's got great stuff, he competes well, he's a good teammate and I think it puts another piece there where I can pitch guys exactly how I want to.
"When we lost Henderson, things changed. The guys did a great job. Will Smith jumped in, did a great job. Duke did a great job. We picked up [Jeremy] Jeffress and he steps in and does a great job. But this is different. This is a guy that's proven. He's done it before, he's closed before, he's set up before, and now I have another piece that I can put together and maybe do the matchups a little bit better than I've been doing them."
News of the trade was met warmly in the Brewers clubhouse, and with a touch of surprise.
"You never know what's going to happen in your division," said Roenicke, who was approached several days ago by Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell about the possibility of a Broxton trade. "We trade [John] Axford last year to the Cardinals, which I know wasn't easy for Doug to do. But sometimes, when it makes sense to everybody, it works."
Said catcher Jonathan Lucroy, "You can tell they're trying to make something happen. They're trying to bolster the bullpen, and that's great. We're trying to get better, and that's important. As an everyday player, it's nice to see that."