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.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 46 Comments

  1. Without knowing the details of this possible contract, or which Arroyo is returning from TJ, it is hard to comment on if it is good or bad. If the surgery returns him to Badrroyo and he is just taking up a roster spot then obviously it is a case of the Reds bringing in washed up players for “veteran presence”. If Goodrroyo still exists it is good insurance to have someone taking up innings when injuries and innings limits start taking their toll. At worst he is a good mentor to the young pitchers. At worst the losing season involves a few more losses.

    • should say at worst he is a good mentor to the young pitchers and the losing season involves a few more losses

  2. Or could Bailey come back healthy and be the one traded

    • Incredibly doubtful. He probably won’t pitch until June, meaning that he will have probably 8-10 starts, post surgery, for other teams to see before deciding they’re willing to take on $60+M in salary over the remainder of his deal. I can’t imagine that happening unless he comes out and is pitching like Clayton Kershaw the entire time.

  3. I loved Bronson Arroyo when he was here. I hated it when he left. Now I would hate it if he came back. Yea, we might win 70 games instead of 65. WOW. Please let us go with the young guys who are our future. I want to see Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson and the host of young arms we have stockpiled. We have taken a pathway, just go down it. Don’t halfstep the rebuild. Just do it.

  4. This ship has sailed. Loved Bronson but that was then and this is now. Go with youth.

    • I would like to see him in the long relief role…that could possibly work because his days are most likely over as an effective starter.

    • The youth might not be ready yet. Rush the youth anyway, because we’re tired of seeing older players? That doesn’t seem like a good plan…

  5. I think I’d rather give Lincicum a half year and a new location to try and regain some of his former magic than Arroyo. But if Bronson can lead and help these young guys, then I guess I can’t complain… too much 🙂

  6. Of course Steve’s predictions of what the rotation needs to consist of in June assumes everyone stays healthy, and/or starts pitching well in AAA. In a perfect world the Reds will have lots of starting options by midseason, and Arroyo will need to be pushed out to open a spot for a younger, higher ceiling guy. In the real world, who knows what the status will be of the various rotation candidates. Arroyo would probably be a small financial commitment for a security blanket.

    • RFM,

      I couldn’t agree more. If the Reds bring Arroyo in on a one year deal at a low cost then what is there to lose? I know he could potentially take time away from a young buck, but I think people forget that Arroyo spent a fair amount of time as a long reliever. With all the young guys starting games I would love to see a Bronson type be able to step in after someone has been shelled in the 3rd and fill 4 innings of baseball.

      • What’s there to lose?

        Potentially a couple million bucks, in a season in which the Reds added great payroll flexibility by trading many of their high priced players. Ultimately an insignificant amount of cash in the baseball world, though. The Reds have extracted so much value from Arroyo’s previous contracts, if he gets a small guarantee (plus incentives), bombs, and gets released… fine. There are worse uses of cash than giving them to an underappreciated guy like Arroyo. Jason Marquis got $1.5m last year for making the team, who knows what that indicates about Arroyo’s value. Twice that? Same? Either way, not much in the big picture.

        Second, innings. Innings where we could be complaining about how the Reds foolishly rushed somebody to the majors to eat innings, when they would’ve been better off with a veteran over the first few months. If someone like Lorenzen or Finnegan gets sent to AAA and dominates, well, that’s a good problem to have. If those guys, and others, struggle in AAA having a veteran stopgap would look smart.

        “I think people forget that Arroyo spent a fair amount of time as a long reliever” – Well, quite frankly I think they forget because that’s pretty much untrue. Every single game he pitched since coming to the Reds in 2006 was out of the rotation. He pitched 40 (I think) games out the bullpen in his MLB career, all at the start, mostly for the Pirates before establishing himself as a starter in Boston in 2004. The way I see it, basically he was nothing, then he was a starter. Basically all of his MLB success comes as a starter. His greatest strength was always his consistency, his ability to go out and pitch literally every 5th day.

        I don’t see Arroyo as a serious candidate for the bullpen… either he holds a rotation spot or gets released.

  7. “We’re toGETHER again!…”

    • Rumor has it Chris Welch wants Arroyo back…

      Seriously, Steve has convinced me this is not the right move. Go with youth, see what we have moving forward. We have enough arms.

  8. Mar-Jun:
    Arroyo
    Iglesias
    Deeee-sclah-fonny (can’t shake Thom’s annoying emphasis from my mind)
    Lamb
    Finnegan
    Rookie Davis (as needed)

    July-Sep
    Bailey
    Iglesias
    Deeee-sclah-fonny
    Davis (called up)
    Stephenson (called up)
    Lamb (winding down innings)
    Finnegan (winding down innings)

    Arroyo benched or traded, others in AAA (a team that will be similar in make up to our big league for most of the year, minus 1st base).

    What’s wrong with this? Bring on the Guitar Man! Oh, p.s. Lorenzen is a bullpen guy, right? Him and Cingrani.

    • What’s wrong with that?

      For one, Rookie Davis has pitched 6 games in AA, and is NOT MLB ready. He should spend the first few months in AA, or perhaps AAA… no higher. Maybe substitute someone like Moscot into your equation, but Rookie Davis is arguably further away than Travieso, and certainly behind several other prospects.

      Finnegan has limited experience going through the routine of starting, and could probably benefit from some time in Louisville’s rotation. It’s his contract status – having been called up early by the Royals, an already started service clock, and presence on the 40 man roster – that makes him a rotation candidate, rather than any consensus of preparedness.

      Iglesias pitched about 125 innings in 2015, and will likely aim for an inning threshold around 160 in 2016. He can’t be counted on for a full season.

      The Reds have given no indication that they’re giving up on Lorenzen as a starter yet. That’s fan speculation, supported by nothing that the Reds have said.

  9. The fact that we are talking about a pitcher whose best quality was eating innings, who due to age and injury may not be able to do that, as a possible positive addition really speaks volumes to the upcoming season.

    • All the young guys will likely lead to a heavily-worked bullpen, and relieving the workload of the bullpen has always been Arroyo’s greatest value to the team.

      How many times have I heard Arroyo was finished? Basically every time he had a bad start in his whole time with the Reds. He’s always faced huge doubts, and keeps overcoming them. Remember his mono-stricken where he led the league with 46 homeruns allowed? Arroyo has always been a survivor, making people who claimed that he was finished look silly. Are you really confident in betting against him?

      • This is the first time he’s injured his arm and required surgery. All your other anecdotes have literally no bearing on the current situation.

        Given his age, relative lack of effectiveness before the injury, and the surgery itself, I think it’s pretty unlikely to think Arroyo will be another other than a disaster on the mound in 2016. But, that’s not what the signing would be for. IF the Reds sign him, I’d say it’s 100% for the “mentoring” aspect which seems right up WJ’s alley.

  10. I could see him sliding into a long relief role down the stretch, particularly if the bullpen runs into injuries.

    I also wouldn’t mind seeing the Reds develop him into a pitching coach further down the line, if that’s something that would jnterest him.

  11. Looking at some of the other teams supposedly “interested” in Arroyo (Nats, Pirates), it is hard to imagine he will pick the Reds unless they make a really juicy offer starting with an MLB contract and a sizable guaranteed base amount. Surely the Reds won’t go that far off the deep in will they?

    • The Reds can guarantee him a SERIOUS opportunity to make the rotation on opening day, and potentially stick in it for a while. The day he signs the penciled in rotation for April becomes Iglesias, DeSclafani, Lamb, Arroyo and ?.

      For the Nationals he’d be behind Scherzer, Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Tanner Roark, and Joe Ross… fighting with AJ Cole for 6th on the depth chart. To make the rotation he’d require an injury to someone else, and he’d have to outperform AJ Cole. That’s a huge long shot.

      For the Pirates he’d be behind Cole and Liriano, and competing with Niese, Vogelsong, Locke… plus top prospects like Glasnow, Tallion, and Kingham. The Pirates still look like a likely destination for Mat Latos, Masterson, Fister, or someone like that.

      So, will a guy looking to reestablish himself choose a losing team he’s familiar with which will give him every opportunity (plus rumor is his girlfriend lives in Cincinnati), or a contending team unlikely to have a spot for him? I think the Cincinnati opportunity is a far more appealing situation for Arroyo than you’re recognizing, while the opportunities to contend are likely to be far more difficult and challenging. If he believes in himself his best hope of getting a role with a contender might be to prove himself with the Reds, and get traded, rather than risking an unfavorable allotment of playing time.

      In my opinion if the Reds match any offer he should, without question, accept that offer by the Reds. Pittsburgh or Washington would need to make a superior financial commitment for it to make any sense for Arroyo. So far the offer Arroyo has in hand (from the Nationals, I think?) is rumored to be a minor league deal and spring training invite. Hardly ‘off the deep end’.

      • I guess it comes down to BA’s motivation. I was seeing it as he would be more interested in playing for a contending team. Also there could be an appeal to pitching at AAA until he feels confident of his recovery and that he can command his pitches; and any minor league deal he would sign would no doubt have some sort of walk away provision in it to keep him from being stuck in the minors beyond May or June.

  12. With all the youth on the pitching staff, it would be refreshing to have Bronson back. He knows what he’s capable of doing, or not doing, better than most. There’s no veteran anchor on the staff right now, including Homer, whom I would never consider a leader anyway. These kids are going to need guidance, and for a team-friendly contract, he’s the guy. And if anyone’s concerned about a loss in velocity, he never had any to begin with. Pen or spot starter, he’d be great to have on the team.

  13. I bet Aaron Harang would love a Cincy reunion to bag a couple more million to be a part time pitcher/pitching coach also. 🙂

  14. The absolute only reason to do this is for BA to shepherd/mentor the young pitchers, and only then if they (including specifically Brian Price, who does know him well as a person) are convinced that BA is all-in on that role. But I wouldn’t do it.

    What I would do is consider a 6-man rotation It would (1) limit wear and tear on young arms, and (2) allow management a better look at more pitchers. It would probably be good for Homer for this year, too.

    • A 6-man rotation is an interesting idea. The only downside is it limits the usage your #1 and #2 starters (DeSclafani and Iglesias), and you would want them pitching as much as possible. Read my post below on my idea, although I will also add that having Arroyo as a “Swing Man” might actually be the best option.

  15. Superior work ethic. A zillion young talented pitchers? Would be nice to lessen the learning curve that many felt held Bailey back.

  16. Is it possible that Arroyo would be open to pitching in the bullpen later in the season? I see it as plausible, especially considering he will be limited in coming back from Tommy John. When they sign him, they should make it clear that at some point near mid-season, they would want to shift him into the ‘pen to save his arm and get these young pitchers some more experience in the rotation.

    • If the Reds think Arroyo can help in the bullpen and Arroyo is agreeable, using him in that role makes more sense than him taking up the “veteran starter” role in the rotation.

      • I meant more along the lines of having him start the season in the rotation at least until Bailey is back, then moving him to the bullpen. But that idea would work as well if Arroyo agreed.

    • Somebody (or even a couple of somebodies) are going to have to fill a lot of innings out of the pen. If Arroyo is as rubber armed as in the past and willing to do the job, first man out of the pen (5th inning or earlier) might be a good role for him that would save senseless wear and tear and MLB service time on a younger guy by allowing that person to work in the AAA rotation.

      However, filling that same role could also be helpful in prepping someone like Moscot for his likely eventual MLB “destination” role.

      It will be an interesting call to see whether the Reds go with Arroyo (or another MLB vet), one of the younger guys, or perhaps someone cheaper in that role than a vet, i.e. someone like Villarreal.

  17. The warm and fuzzy side of me says sign him now.The realist says nope lets go with the young guys.How about as an asst pitching coach?

  18. I’m going to say that “young cost controlled hitting” is no longer a readily available asset. It’s like paying $5 a gallon for gas, you only do it when you have to. Like Oakland did two years ago for Smardizijia(props to anyone who can spell that name without looking it up)

  19. Steve said it best about relying on people who had previous connections with the team.We must get away and stay away from the signing or hiring of these players or coaches or even front office folks.Time to turn the page and look toward the future.I sure hope we are evaluating everybody as to if they fit going forward.Hard to do and sad to do but it must be done.

    • Thank Godness…..hopefully he can have a positive impact on what should be a contending team. The last thing the Reds need at this point is to charge up the Delereon and go back in time.

  20. I’m all for letting the young guys pitch, but someone has to be able to get through at least six innings and pretty much the second half of the season last year that wasn’t happening. That kind of rotation grinds your bullpen into chutney.

    I’m not so sure not having an affordable professional innings eater in your rotation has value just to keep from running your young staff into the ground. I’m sure Scott Williamson could have used one a decade ago.

    • Pedro Villarreal is my sleeper candidate to be the innings eater. He wasn’t that bad at it last season, given the nature of the job. I think they moved him off of the 40 man because they saw him at his ceiling and wanted to have open spots available for all the trades on the horizon. PV will be in camp on a minor league deal. If he shows well and the org feels the need, they can always put him back onto the MLB roster.

    • Yeah. Even with a veteran innings eater, the Reds will have a lot of pitches thrown by young arms. Signing Arroyo (too late now, evidently) would not have mirrored the signing of Skip. The Reds’ position players were not primarily young and inexerienced. The pitching staff this year is. Former players often speak of the importance of veteran leadership/mentoring, and since it is clearly important in other walks of life, I expect that it is in baseball, as well. Doesn’t have to come from a retread former Red, of course, but if the search is to be open-minded, it shouldn’t automatically exclude those guys, either. Known quantities can have plusses.

  21. Yes I agree the young arms will throw lots of pitches and the bus from Louisville may be on the road more this year but that’s ok.I think we will pick up a rather cheap veteran that can make spot starts or work out of the pen but we will be ok if we don’t.The job of managing this young staff falls on Price and him alone so lets see if he was worth keeping him around.

  22. You hit the nail on the head with: “But the Reds should be looking for a pitcher who they could move at the trade deadline for prospects.” In fact, I’m hopeful the Reds begin looking to make smart, short-term contract additions by adding some of the potential lottery tickets floating around. With the Reds being flush with cash, I’m thinking the following players could be quality adds for potential trade flips:

    1) Doug Fister (SP)
    2) Tyler Clippard (use as closer)
    3) Mat Latos?! (unlikely due to burnt bridges but hard to believe he’s unable to turn it back around)
    4) Austin Jackson or Alex Rio
    5) Alfredo Simon (use as either SP or relief)

    The upside of these players is they: 1) fill current roster needs 2) have had past success and 3) could possibly be had on short-term deals 4) could offer great trade pieces with a good first half 5) allows younger players extra development time.

  23. Looks like BA is getting a minor league deal with the Nats, along with an invite to spring training. We’ll see just how soft a spot ‘ol Dusty has in his heart for Bronson, I suppose!

    • Perhaps I should read the last dozen or so comments first… 😉 this is not news!

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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Reboot-Rebuild-Recyle

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