We did a series of these last off-season, and I liked the discussion, so I thought it would be interesting to re-visit the topic. We’ll start today with Bronson Arroyo, and move on to some others in the coming days.

What is the Nation’s collective wisdom regarding Bronson Arroyo? How valuable is he? Is he overrated, underrated, or just rated? What is his future with the Reds, and what should his future be?

I’ll weigh in later, though my thoughts on Bronson are fairly well-known around these parts. What do you think?

UPDATE: Wow, this seems like an exceptionally bad idea. You know Arroyo is my favorite Red, but I really hope this doesn’t come to fruition:

Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Bronson Arroyo’s extension could get completed this week and be for two years. Including the option that was picked up on Thursday, the three-year total of the deal could be worth $36-$39 million. Rosenthal did not indicate whether he had a source that provided this information.

I just cannot believe that a team in Cincinnati’s financial situation would make a mistake like this. Arroyo is not a very good bet to be a valuable pitcher beyond next season.

Can anyone explain Walt Jocketty’s thinking here? I just don’t get it.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

Join the conversation! 49 Comments

  1. My personal opinion is that he is fairly rated. I believe his value to the team this past year was slightly underrated. He was the most consistant pitcher on the entire staff all year. I still believe, however, that he is the one they need to shop around for a LF bat. As our young pitchers mature and gain experience, Arroyo’s value to THIS team will increasingly diminish (oxymoron?). I think is overall value is still strong, but his incremental value to this team is weaker than his overall value.

  2. I agree with RiverCity. I’d probably pick up Bronson’s option for this year (although honestly, a close call) but I’m against signing him for a longer extension. We need to see the details of the extension, but my guess is that it’s going to be more than I’d be willing to pay — especially because Bronson would have to figure a two-year extension might be the last big contract he’ll be able to sign.

    Of course the Reds can trade him, even this year. But I’d hate to see them “do that” to Bronson, take advantage of his willingness to sign with the Reds at a lower rate, then trade him.

    (btw, that ad for the slaughterhouse is really gross. kind of makes me want to type this quickly and leave).

  3. Arroyo’s basically a league average pitcher who can chew up a good chunk of innings. Not horrible, but considering what he’ll cost and what else the Reds have in terms of starting pitching for the next 3 or 4 years, extending him beyond 2011 is just dumb.

  4. All things considered though, I’d be worried by reports than Jocketty wants to sign Volquez to a multi-year deal. That’s just idiotic.

  5. This thing smells as good as done. The interesting part will be whether Arroyo has a significant no trade clause. If our pitching talent pans out, I would want to be able to trade him.

    Re: Volquez, its not like he is going to get huge money coming off TJ surgery.

  6. If Jocketty signs Volquez to a multi-year deal and extends Arroyo, I’d start wondering if he isn’t a double agent for the Cardinals.

  7. @Brien Jackson: That’s what Daugherty said Jocketty said.

    Signing Arroyo to a 2 year extension for 13M per year, god, just idiotic. Signing Volquez to any kind of extension other than “free” is also idiotic.

  8. I agree that Arroyo is an average MLB pitcher whose value is higher than average to the Reds due to the team having so many young pitchers. He is good for eating up innings, seems to be a stable enough guy in the clubhouse and on the mound, and almost always gives you what you’d expect from him (hence: stable), which is an average performance that gives the team a chance to win if they’re hitting the ball.

    I also agree that 2 years at 13M is crazy. One year, maybe, because I think the Reds will need him one more year (as the youngsters grow and get better). Any longer, and any more money, is simply bad business. They’d be better off to let him go than to sign him for longer than one year, in my opinion. What team would WANT him for 2 years at 13m? That’s nuts.

    As for the argument against Volquez, my only question is who would replace him? I don’t particularly like the guy, but I don’t know if there are any particularly better options out there. If there are, I would wholeheartedly say “Go for it and let Volquez walk”. If Chapman was going to begin the year as a Reds starter next year, which has 0% chance of happening, Volquez could be shown the door.

    @Steve – Adblock Plus would take care of the ads that you see. I use Firefox and I never see adds with it installed. If you’re using Internet Explorer (and I hope you aren’t because it’s awful), Adblock Plus might work with it. Chrome, too.

  9. I just don’t get the extension on Arroyo, unless we intend to trade him before it runs out.

    I just can’t see Arroyo agreeing to a cheap extension, because it’s his probably his last chance to sign a big, multi-year contract.

    Hypothetically, we could use the extension to convince Arroyo to substantially lessen his salary payment for 2011 — then trade him before we have to pay the out years.

    And if we use the 2011 money to sign people like Orlando Cabrera and Willy Taveras, I’d rather not spend it.

    On Volquez, I’m on the other side of this. With his potential, if we can lock him up long term while his price is relatively cheap, I’d be all over it. Volquez’ 2010 performance was well within the usual expectation for successful TJ recovery.

  10. I have no problem with picking up the option, I think that’s a good move as I think he can help school guys like Leake and Wood, who are similar to himself.

    But signing him to an extension, much less a two year extension? No way. With a payroll like the Reds have, its better to let him leave a year too early than keep him a year too long.

  11. If the extension does not include an extensive no-trade clause, Arroyo can be solid trade bait for a contender looking for a 3 or 4 starter.

  12. @Steve:

    Volquez is in his first year of arbitration, hasn’t had sustained success, and has had Tommy John surgery. He’s not going to make very much money in arbitration, so committing yourself to him long term is insane in the literal sense that it lacks any sort of logic whatsoever.

    And to point out the obvious, if the team is worried that he’s going to be overpaid in arbitration, the answer is to non-tender him, not to commit EVEN MORE MONEY to a multi-year deal. It seems to me that Jocketty places far too much importance on yearly salary and lacks focus on the total amount of money he’s spending in these deals.

  13. And not to go worst case scenario here, but at some point these extensions are going to cut into the Reds’ ability to sign Votto and Bruce long-term without a pretty substantial increase in payroll.

  14. No extension for Arroyo, for what it’s worth. I like him, and I like his consistency, but I think he may have peaked in 2010. It’s hard to move a washed-up starter with an 8-figure annual salary.

    I’m all for signing Volquez to a multi-year deal. I don’t think his value will ever be lower than it is right now. Sure, he won’t command much in arbitration, but that translates to long-term contracts as well. He’s post Tommy-John, and we’ve seen that he can be amazing. If we can sign him to a few years for a few mil a year, I say do it. Even if he doesn’t look to be back to form in 2011, I bet a lot of teams would bite in trade if he isn’t making a boatload of money. It’s all about upside.

  15. I think Bronson is a good #3 starter. He isn’t a 1 or 2. He is a good 3 or 4 man who will give you 200+ innings.

    That said… Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Travis Wood, Mike Leake, and Aroldis Chapman seem the future of this franchise, blocking out Sam LeCure, Matt Maloney, and several others. I don’t mind Bronson back for next year…I’m not sure he should be around any longer than that.

  16. @JS Bragg:

    That’s basically it. Looking at 2012, the Reds have Bailey, Cueto, Wood, Leake, and Volquez/Chapman as a rotation. And even if Volquez and Chapman aren’t good enough then, they just need a 5th starter. $25 million is a lot to commit for such a marginal upgrade at that part.

  17. @aapsley:

    Why would Volquez sign a long term deal that paid him much less than he could get going year to year in arbitration?

    • @aapsley:
      Why would Volquez sign a long term deal that paid him much less than he could get going year to year in arbitration?

      He’d get guaranteed money. Plus we could sign him beyond his arbitration years. In his mind, he has to wonder what kind of a pitcher he’ll be over the next 5-6 years. If everyone knew the future perfectly, you’re right, there is no advantage for either side in trying to negotiate.

      By your logic no team would ever sign a multi-year deal with an arbitration eligible player. Are you saying that the Longoria deal isn’t sweet for the Rays?

  18. @Brien: We just evaluate Volquez differently. I see him as a potential #1 or #2 starter this year or next and then on into the future. If we could sign him for 4-5 years and keep his salary under control, I’d do it.

    I agree that he won’t command a huge amount this year in arbitration, and I’m sure WJ knows that as well. Although he does have his 2008 stats out there to count for something.

    If he goes out and pitches like a #1 this year, then we’ve missed our window to control his salary increases beyond 2011.

    Obviously, I’m not saying we should extend him for a large amount of money, but this is a perfect chance to take advantage of the uncertainty EV must feel about his future to get a good deal.

    If you see EV as a #5 or #6 starter with poor command indefinitely, I understand your conclusion. I just don’t evaluate him that way.

  19. @Brien Jackson: Both sides know that there are risks in waiting. The risk for Volquez is he doesn’t return to his 2008 form. The risk for the Reds is that he does and he costs the Reds a lot of money. If an extension is signed now at somewhere between what EV is due now and what he would be due if he returns to prime form in the next few years, both sides are reducing their risk.

  20. @Steve:

    But again, how you evaluate him isn’t really the question. He’s simply not going to get paid much in arbitration, so there’s absolutely no reason to do a long term commitment at the moment, especially considering you don’t know if he can stay healthy. There’s no financial imperative to do it, so losing the flexibility is just dumb.

  21. @CaptainTonyKW:

    No they’re not, they’re just shifting them. The Reds would lower the risk of losing him to free agency, but they’re increasing the risk that they’ll get stuck with an albatross of a contract if Volquez gets hurt again. I’d much prefer to take my chances on the former than the latter.

  22. @Steve:

    First of all, I think you’re overestimating how much players get in arbitration. To put it in perspective, Felix Hernandez signed for $3.8 million to avoid arbitration. How do you think Volquez stacks up to Felix through their first 3 seasons?

    Secondly, yes players sign bad deals all the time, but that’s part of why agents generally advise them against team friendly deals. Security is great, but if you’re offering that’s MUCH lower than what a player is likely to get in arbitration, the player is probably going to take the gamble, at least for one year. Maybe Volquez signs a really small deal for the next 3-5 years, but I doubt it. The Reds will probably only get a small discount over what he’d get in arbitration, at the price of losing the ability to cut him loose.

    Finally, as far as an extension past arbitration goes, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it here too. The rule of thumb here is paying the estimated arbitration value of a player, or maybe even a little more, in exchange for a discount on his first few arbitration years. And again, this would be a hell of a commitment to someone like Volquez.

  23. “Arroyo is not a very good bet to be a valuable pitcher beyond next season.”

    I guess I can see nothing that could lead you to this conclusion. It could be true I guess due to age (although he will be only 34-36 the next 3 years) but in fact he seems to be getting better as he has matured. In todays day and age of conditioning and Arroyo’s pitching style (soft, softer, softess)he shouls stand up. I think sometimes we get so caught up in all the new stats, mph and methods for measuring overall effectiveness that we lose track of the only one that counts. WINS. This guy has lead in wins the last 2 years and the totals as going up. Nuxhall said it”Winners win, the others talk about the other statistics”. Bronson is a winner.

  24. Jocketty’s thinking is pretty simple: given his druthers, he likes veteran players, and isn’t a fan of young players, especially young pitchers. I know I point it out a lot but…Mark Mulder trade and all that.

  25. Answer: Not as valuable as Adam Dunn. What’s going on in LF, again?

  26. I have no problem with the extension for Arroyo. Even two years at 12 million per. Here’s my thinking.

    1) Bronson will be 36 after the deal; however, he’s proven incredibly durable, never missing a start with Cincinnati.

    2) He’s the epitome of consistency. You can pretty much count him in for 200 IP, 15 wins and a 4.00 ERA every year.

    3) His stuff has never been overpowering. He doesn’t live or die by MPH on his fastball. So, it’s not as though we are going to see a dramatic decline. While his K rate has declined, Arroyo has never been a strikeout pitcher, and all of his other numbers are holding steady.

    While there is some sticker shock, I can understand, the value of a guy like Arroyo is pretty much what the Reds are paying. Randy Wolf, at 33, signed a 3 year $30 million deal last year. Ted Lilly, at 34, just signed a 3 year $33 million deal. You can make a good argument that these guys as lefties should earn more, but I’d give Arroyo an edge up over both of those guys.

    Given the youth/inexperience/unpredictability in the rotation, a solid, reliable, proven guy like Arroyo at/near market value is not a bad deal AT ALL.

  27. @Jared: Scott Podsednik is going on.

  28. @Brien Jackson:

    Using Felix Hernandez as an example was probably not the best choice. Yes he is an excellent picture and did settle for 3.8 mil. that year he went on to put up 19-5 w/l, 2.49 era , 217 k . cashing in an additional 3-5 mil. a year on his 5 yr extension. If the Mariners would have locked him up long term that offseason they would have probably saved about 12 mil.

  29. @Mark in cc.: I’m a big fan of Arroyo, but wins are meaningless when evaluating a starting pitcher. The very best pitcher in the AL, King Felix, only had 13 wins this season. Go up and down

  30. Bringing back Bronson Arroyo for next year for me is an automatic. I don’t think it is the end of the world if he is extended and it seems that the extension is a done deal, so I am not going to worry about it. It probably would be more savvy to go short, but hey, if the Reds are out of it, I’d think Arroyo would still be a fairly trade-able player unless he falls apart.

    At least with Arroyo, you know what you get and with his track record and style, I think he has pretty decent odds of holding up his end of the bargain. This signing also might be a precursor for going to deal with one or two of the younger arms.

  31. @Jeff:

    It’s the example I used because the arbitration process tilts heavily towards precedent, absent the really extreme cases. So what guys like Felix got at the same service time will play heavily into how much Volquez can get if he goes to arbitration.

  32. Since we don’t know the full extent of the contract it is really hard to review it. If there is a no trade clause then I kinda have an issue with it. But if there is no, I really don’t see teh problem. His style of pitching lends itself to more chances of him to continue performing like he did this past season and last year over say a fireballer. While Leake and Wood and Cueto had very nice seasons, there is still a huge unknown. Plus if Bronson continues to pitch like he has and the others come along well then the ability to trade him is there.

  33. @dn4192: Speaking of Bronson’s trade value, with his stuff–I wonder what his ERA from the past few years would look like in a pitcher’s park.

  34. I disagree with one small point being made about Arroyo. While it’s true that his pitching style may be conducive to not wearing out his arm, it isn’t the case that his effectiveness would not be hurt by a small drop off.

    He would be the first one to tell you that the key to him pitching well is his fastball being closer to 90-91 mph than when it is 86-87.

    So if aging causes his fastball to decline in velocity, he may -may- not be able to adopt easily.

  35. There are cases to be made either way on the extension. However, since when has a “league average” pitcher averaged 15+ wins and 200+ innings over a 3 year period. I don’t think so. I’d like to see the sabres that support that conclusion: and would suggest in advance that if such statistics exist they are of questionable value or being (mis)applied with bias.

    Statistical analysis can be a great tool. However as my father was wont to observe, “statitics don’t lie; but people often lie with statistics.

  36. @OhioJim:

    Wins. Are. Useless.

    Seriously, I can’t believe we’re still having this conversation 5 years later. The win “statistic” is a ridiculous joke that means less than nothing.

  37. WHOA. I’d missed this news.

    I LOVE Bronson, but there are two big things that would worry me about this extension:

    –He’ll be 34, 35, and 36 years old these three seasons.

    –The combined team BABIP (batting average on balls in play) for Reds pitchers this year was .292. Bronson’s was .241! That is unsustainably lucky. He’s seriously primed to regress.

    I do love the guy though. He hasn’t missed a start in 5 years on the Reds — that’s INSANE.

  38. @Brien Jackson:

    It is the combination of wins and innings pitched that are significant in this case. And the team that wins the most games advances, right. So wins can’t be all that insignificant over the season with so many innings pitched.

  39. @OhioJim:

    Pitcher wins, as a statistic, are completely meaningless, save, perhaps, for crude record keeping purposes. But ascribing worth to a pitcher because of his win total is ridiculous, because ultimately they mean nothing.

  40. That would be a horrible deal. Here’s how I see it:

    If the young pitchers (Homer/Leake/Wood/Chapman/Cueto/Voltron) aren’t outpitching Arroyo by 2012, this team is screwed . . . and therefore has no need for a 35 year-old pitcher making $14M.

    Either they’re too good to use Arroyo, or so bad that he’s not worth it.

    Boo, Walt. Boo.

  41. Bronson Arroyo’s season-to-season performance has improved each of the past 3 years.
    ERA, BB/9 IP, and opposing Avg have decreased each year. Given his continued durability and reliability as an innings eater it certainly makes sense to pick up the option (as the Reds have) for the 2011 season.Baseball historian Bill James has already predicted a 2011 season comparable to to the 2010 season (with a very slight regression in production). As a Reds fan, I feel that Arroyo will likely produce similar statistics to this past year (however, I see him winning closer to .500 level that is on par with his careers numbers than the career high he posted this season), and is worth keeping for 2011 only.An extension beyond that will stunt the overall potential and growth of the staff.

    A 3 year extension of 36-39 million beyond this season makes poor baseball sense since the best case scenario for Arroyo is that he continues to perform as a quality 3 rotation guy at low Ace money. Arroyo’s make-up and skills at this point in his career bear some resemblance to Jamie Moyer. Each guy essentially pitches “junk” and finds a way to get outs with a low number of strike outs.Arroyo and Moyer’s statistics at age 30-33 are very similar and it is likely that Arroyo will be able to keep par with Moyer for likely the next 2 season. Moyer, as I feel Arroyo can, produced at an above average level during his mid-30s.There is no reason that the rubber arm of Arroyo cannot also continue at this “above league average” level.

    However, $13 million a year, on a $80 million dollar pay roll does not make sense for a pitcher who is going to perform slightly above league average. Given the abundance of youth/potential in pitching within the Reds organization (Chapman, Volquez, Cueto, Bailey, Wood, Leake) it makes little sense to extend Arroyo at that price beyond the 2011 season.It certainly makes sense for the Reds to allow Arroyo to continue to mentor their younger players, however, it will not be worthwhile to pay for a player who despite posting a career year, still only maintained a 1.7 WAR (Win Above Replacement) and 4.61 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching-a metric to determine real ERA without accounting for the defense behind the Pitcher). The talent within the organization should be able to foster a comparable player in 2012 and beyond for 1/5 the price).

    In the coming years, the Reds will need to re-sign Votto, Bruce, and its other franchise players for considerable amounts of money. It seems that a franchise that has been recently successful in developing farm talent would best be served maintaining that talent that has yet to peak rather than overpay a player whose play has likely peaked this season and is very likely going to regress dramatically over the final season of their contract, or at best, plateau at its current level. In order for the Reds to reach the ultimate goal of winning a World Series, the Reds must not extend Arroyo beyond this season, unless Arroyo is willing to take a dramatic pay-cut after the 2011 season (which he will almost certainly not do this off-season coming off a 17 Win season). An extension of the rumored sums is irresponsible to us as Reds fans.

  42. @David: I really don’t agree.

    First, it doesn’t really matter that much if he’s comparable to pitcher X. What matters is whether he makes sense to this team with their budget—which he doesn’t, unless they’re going to really raise payroll. (And in that case, I would prefer, say, a left fielder.)

    Second, I still can’t believe the BABIP. Maybe Arroyo will have another .241, but I just doubt it.

    Arroyo’s sole value is in his ability to throw a lot of innings at slightly above average ERAs. As Chris says, if the guys they have can’t outpitch him in 2012, we’re screwed. I understand there’s high variance in the young guys, but the Reds also have a lot of young pitchers. Not just 2 or 3.

    Then there’s the postseason, when you want guys who can get strikeouts. Arroyo’s K rate is diminishing to ridiculously low levels. He’s not going to contribute in the postseason, most likely. So he’s only there to get you to the postseason. That’s very important, but not important enough to sign him and either (a) lose Votto or Bruce, or (b) lose another important piece because you signed a guy like Arroyo to 1/6 or 1/7th of your total payroll.

    As an aside, I think the 200 IP thing is kind of overrated. If the Reds could, say, get a 4.5 ERA (instead of Arroyo’s 4, which might even be optimistic), out of a combined 200 innings of say, Lecure and Maloney, then you are paying 13M vs a total of less than 2M for a half point of ERA. I’m not saying they can get that from those two guys, but I’m just giving an example of the kind of thinking Jocketty ought to be doing.

  43. I know this is about Arroyo, but just wondering—does it concern anyone else that the Reds seem like they are likely to come back with the same team?

    It sounds like Jocketty wants to re-sign Cabrera and then he’ll start at SS, they’re talking to low-level FAs so Gomes will probably play LF…it just seems crazy to me.

  44. If there is an extension for Arroyo could that possibly signal that WJ is not as confident about a couple of the young pitchers as might think? Just asking

  45. @zblakey:

    I’m guessing that’s right, because Jocketty doesn’t like young pitchers.

  46. So, if I’m doing the math right, assuming the Reds pick up Phillips’ 2012 option and don’t non-tender Cueto or Bailey, I’m having a really hard time seeing how they can retain Phillips, Bruce, and Votto and have a reasonably good pitching staff (minus a sudden flood of great pre-arb starters) past the 2012 season without a payroll increase into the $90-100 million range.

  47. @David: What’s this about Podsednik?

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at chaddotson@redlegnation.com.

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