The Reds are talking with Bronson Arroyo about the pitcher returning in a Reds uniform. This news comes amidst reports that Arroyo was in town over the weekend pitching for the Reds.
The Reds will make their offer to Arroyo, who is being courted by several other teams, and the right-hander is expected to make a decision fairly soon. The Washington Nationals have offered him a minor league contract.
Arroyo has missed a year and a half with Tommy John surgery.
“My arm feels fine, totally normal,” Arroyo said. “It took 16 months to feel this way. The only question mark in my mind is endurance. How long can I go? I’d be lying if I said I knew I could throw 200 innings with this arm. I just don’t know.” (Mark Sheldon)
In November, I wrote about the Reds re-signing Arroyo. My opinion remains the same. The Reds may have a need for a veteran pitcher for half the season, while Homer Bailey gets back to form and innings issues with the younger pitcher get resolved. Arroyo could fit that spot.
But the Reds should be looking for a pitcher who they could move at the trade deadline for prospects. Arroyo isn’t a great candidate for that. He may take a few months to get back to pitching condition and there’s always a health risk with pitchers his age.
The single most important goal for the Reds this coming year is sorting out and developing their young pitching. The way the roster is constructed, the reboot-rebuild-recycle will rise or fall based on the strength of those arms. Their rapid development is also vital for generating a pool of arms from which to trade for cost-controlled, impact hitting.
The presumed value of Arroyo’s mentorship role to the young pitchers smacks of the Skip Schumaker contract and the other former-Cardinal, grit-based signings. Now that the players from Jocketty’s old St. Louis teams are retired, the in-group comfort zone could switch to former Reds. Other veteran pitchers – ones with a better chance of having a great first half – could provide the same intangible, for what it’s worth.
The Reds can’t afford to have a starting rotation beyond June that is not (1) Homer Bailey, (2) Anthony DeSclafani, (3) Raisel Iglesias and two others from the group of John Lamb, Michael Lorenzen, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, Rookie Davis, Jon Moscot and others. Would they be able to trade Bronson Arroyo in that circumstance?
Bringing Bronson Arroyo back on a major league contract would be the product of an organization with a well established and crippling bias toward hiring from a narrow group of people who have previous connections with the team. Arroyo is the comfortable choice. But if Arroyo, or any other veteran pitcher, makes more than 20 starts for the Reds in 2016, it will be a huge opportunity lost.