Free-agent veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo and the Arizona Diamondbacks have reached a deal that is reportedly worth $23.5 million over the next two seasons with a club option for a third year in 2016 that is worth up to $11 million.
The soon-to-be 37 year old right-hander spent the past eight seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, where he compiled a record of 105-94 with an ERA just over 4.00 and over 1,100 strikeouts. In addition to the Diamondbacks, it was reported that the Baltimore Orioles were interested in the pitcher’s services. During the winter meetings in December, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty made it clear the team would not bring back Arroyo next season based on how much he was looking to be paid.
Over his 14 year career with Pittsburgh, Boston, and Cincinnati, Arroyo has been considered one of the more durable pitchers by never appearing on the disabled list while in the major league. In eight of the past nine seasons, Arroyo has pitched over 200 innings and the one season that he came down with mononucleosis and whooping cough, he still logged 199 innings in over 30 starts.
So what are the Diamondbacks getting with the acquisition of Arroyo? Obviously, his durability is what was most appealing to Arizona president Derrick Hall and general manager Kevin Towers.
“We were able to add depth to our pitching staff, because we made some trades this year and lost some players who had provided us with that depth before,” D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall told Doug and Wolf at the D-backs Fan Fest Saturday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
“Now, we needed it. This is a guy since 2006 who is second in quality starts to only Matt Cain. He’s first among all pitchers in wins and in starts and in innings.
“We’ve heard all along that this is a guy you want to target to get in your clubhouse, because he’s such a good clubhouse guy,” said Hall. “He’s such a leader. In Cincinnati, he took the young pitchers, [Mike] Leake and Homer Bailey, under his wing. That’s what he’s known for. If he didn’t make an All-Star team, he didn’t go home. He stayed in Cincinnati and worked out for four days. You want that kind of commitment. That’s why he’s still pitching effectively at 36, 37, 38 and 39.”
The one glaring issue that sticks out about the Arroyo signing is that he will be the oldest pitcher, by a solid 10 years, on a very young Arizona pitching staff that is led by Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, and Trevor Cahill. In addition to Randall Delgado, the four projected starters are all under 27 years of age. Arroyo could also pose a problem to Arizona’s Brandon McCarthy, who was looking as if he would be the fifth starter in 2014. Arroyo looks as if he will fill the void as the fifth starter, as McCarthy has struggled since his devastating head injury in September 2012.
I personally believe that Arroyo makes the Diamondbacks a better team because of the few liabilities he brings to the clubs. He has never given up a tremendous amount of hits or home runs in a season and even though he has fly-ball tendencies in the past, the D-backs are looking for him to be a consistent number five starter that gives them five to six innings of minimal damage a game. Even if Arroyo does get into trouble from time-to-time, he is backed by a solid bullpen led by J.J Putz, Addison Reed, and Brad Ziegler.
Bringing in Arroyo is more-or-less about buying time until right-hander Archie Bradley is ready to step into a full-time major league roll. The fifth rank prospect going into the season, according to mlb.com, Bradley is one of the more hyped pitching talents coming into 2014 and could see some time at the major league level by the end of the season. Bradley would be the final piece to a potentially tremendous Arizona starting rotation that is complemented by a great offense led by Paul Goldschmidt.
Even if Arroyo isn’t a home run for the Diamondbacks, they still have options for their young pitching staff going forward. The real question D-back fans should be asking this season is when they will see Arroyo’s signature cornrows be brought out of retirement. It is, of course, the hairdo he sported during Boston’s improbable World Series run back in 2004.