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Royals face July decision on Broxton, who they could trade or sign

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider
Jonathan Broxton could be one of the most interesting bullpen pieces available on the July trade market.

Or he could be this year's Jeff Francoeur, the free-agent-to-be who the Royals decide they'd rather keep and sign than trade.

The Royals like Broxton, and he's said to like Kansas City, too. Club officials draw the comparison to Francoeur, who came to the Royals on a one-year deal, then signed a two-year extension last August.

Broxton was coming off surgery when the Royals signed him for $4 million last November. Broxton became the Royals closer when Joakim Soria was hurt in spring training, and his performance (8 saves in 10 opportunities, with a 2.16 ERA) suggests he's nearly back to the form he showed while saving 36 games for the Dodgers in 2009.

In a year when many contenders figure to be looking for bullpen help, Broxton would seem to have great trade value. But he's also just 27 years old, so he could still have long-term value to a Royals team that hopes to be a real contender by 2014.

The Royals haven't yet decided their July strategy, and it could be that they play well enough between now and then that they would be considered contenders themselves. Despite a 12-game losing streak in April, the Royals are just three games behind the Tigers, the team they still consider to be the best in the American League Central.

Even if the Royals find themselves in the race in July, it's highly unlikely that they would become buyers. But Royals people admit that an improved record could keep them from becoming July sellers.

The Royals have other potential free agents besides Broxton (Humberto Quintero, Yuniesky Betancourt and Jonathan Sanchez, who is currently on the disabled list), but Broxton looks to be by far their most valuable trade chip.

The question they'll ask is, would they rather keep him?
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