Trades made after July 31 require players to clear waivers. The Brewers put in a successful waiver claim for Broxton before the two teams worked out the deal.
While the transaction seems to indicate that the struggling fourth-place Reds (66-71) have given up on contending for a postseason berth, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty felt otherwise.
"Although it may be something that's hard to understand, I do not want anybody to think we're signaling that we are not still hoping to be competitive and stay in this race," Jocketty said. "We still have a lot of games with teams in our division, and so forth.
"However, this was a deal that at this time, because of the timing of the trade waivers and everything, that was something we felt that we had to do for next year. It's something that was a very difficult decision to make, but we have some guys coming from the Minor Leagues on Tuesday and we feel with the guys we have and the guys that are coming, it won't be the same as having Broxton, but I think [they] can certainly cover the innings in the bullpen quite well."
This is a move that should assist the Reds some with their offseason payroll flexibility. The club is carrying several large contracts -- including two that can't be moved -- in Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Cincinnati also has four starting pitchers in Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon who can be free agents before the 2016 season. The latter three will be third-year arbitration eligible.
Broxton is owed $9 million for the 2015 season and had a $9 million club option for '16 with a $1 million buyout. A clause in his contract stipulated that Broxton's option switches to a mutual option once traded with an additional $1 million added to the buyout.
The 30-year-old Broxton is 4-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 51 appearances. He has stranded 10 of his 14 inherited runners and has kept the opponent scoreless in 43 games.
"There's no question he left a huge imprint on this organization and all those guys down in the bullpen and all his teammates," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "He may be the best I've ever had in the bullpen, as far as being a professional and preparing the right way and showing everyone else how to get it done."
Broxton has struggled recently, however. In his last seven games, totaling 6 1/3 innings, he has allowed five earned runs 11 hits and four walks. That included giving up two runs and three hits in his final appearance for the Reds on Friday and taking the loss in a 2-1 defeat to the Pirates.
The deal wasn't completed until shortly before Sunday's game against Pittsburgh. Broxton had already departed for the airport by the time the Reds finished their 3-2 victory.
"It's sad," lefty reliever Manny Parra said. "In the bullpen, he was down there the whole game and he led the way. I feel like he was the leader in the bullpen and everybody respected him. He's kind of an old-school type of guy. He doesn't say a lot, but he lets his actions and everything speak for him. It is a shock."
The players coming over from Cincinnati will be Minor Leaguers, likely to be named in the next couple of weeks.
"We have a list of several players. We're still making a final decision on the two that we get," Jocketty said. "I think there's one in particular that we've agreed on, but the other one we have to determine which one we want. We'll probably announce it within the next couple of weeks."
Ultimately, Jocketty looked at the deal as a plus for both moving the contract and getting something in return.
"The players we are getting back are both guys who will contribute in the next couple of years at the Major League level," Jocketty said. "Certainly, we're saving quite a bit of money going forward, which will help us in dealing with next year's roster.
"You guys know the constraints we have going forward, the pitching and so forth. That's just a tough decision you have to make."
Of course, Broxton will be headed to a Reds division rival, and they play Milwaukee six more times this season and likely 18-19 times next season.
"That certainly went into the thought process, but again it was something we felt that we had to do," Jocketty said.