COMMENTARY | Leave it to veteran junkball artist Bronson Arroyo to deliver his brand of buzz at the Winter Meetings.
The musically inclined Arroyo probably hasn't jammed or crooned for the annual gathering of frenzied front office types, but his reported reunion with the Cincinnati Reds has generated plenty of buzz in Reds Country, where he pitched for the past eight years and notched more than 200 innings in all but one of those seasons (199 in 2011).
The Reds did not offer Arroyo a $14.1 million qualifying offer at the end of the 2013 season, but now find themselves in the mix for his services once again.
If Arroyo can command a two-year free-agent deal at $14 million per year, the question arises why didn't the Reds just make the qualifying offer if they really wanted Arroyo back? Were they just being nice in allowing Arroyo to test the market without any first-round draft pick compensation attached, or were they just really not interested.
The Reds and other teams could do worse than adding Arroyo as a No. 4 or 5 to their rotation. His conditioning and perseverance are a testament to his resolve to remain a big-league pitcher despite a drop in velocity. His adaptation to his advancing age may even be turning Arroyo into a better pitcher than he was during his supposed prime. Soon to be 37 years old, Arroyo may really just now be hitting stride.
Why Now for the Reds?
Without Arroyo, the Reds' rotation features Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Tony Cingrani, now that the Reds have declared closer Aroldis Chapman will not convert to the rotation. This rotation is solid enough, except for the injury issues that face Cueto (three times to the disabled list in 2013), Latos (offseason arthroscopic elbow surgery), and Cingrani (twice knocked out of action in 2013 for recurring back spasms).
The injury issues might factor into the Reds' reconsideration, but there may also be another reason. The Reds reportedly came very close to trading lefty reliever Sean Marshall to the Colorado Rockies. Such a move could have precipitated the return of Cingrani to the bullpen and installed the rubber-armed Arroyo in the rotation again.
Trading a Starter?
The other possibility is that the Reds are willing to trade one of the starters currently in their rotation. Bailey would be the most likely candidate given he is in his final year of salary-arbitration eligibility and thus control by the Reds. Trading Bailey for the right price might warrant such a move, but Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has said that the Reds are not trying to trade Bailey.
If not Bailey, then who?
Maybe the Reds can parlay the perhaps fluky 2013 season Mike Leake had (3.37 ERA in 192.1 innings) into a worthwhile package in trade return. Starting pitching is a coveted commodity, and Leake may prove to be of interest to a team like the New York Yankees in return for outfielder Brett Gardner.
Cueto and Latos are -- like Leake -- also under team control for two more years, but, unlike Leake, both Cueto and Latos are the aces of the staff.
The Arroyo buzz may be just that and dissipate just as quickly as it arrived, but, for now, the buzz has all of Reds Country humming along.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for the past five years. You can read his articles about the Reds here.
- Sports & Recreation
- Bronson Arroyo
- Cincinnati Reds
- Mike Leake