Tag: Bronson Arroyo

Bronson Arroyo Injury: Updates on Nationals Pitcher’s Shoulder and Recovery

Bronson Arroyo‘s bid for a comeback with the Washington Nationals has hit a snag, as the pitcher has suffered a shoulder injury heading into the season.

Continue for updates. 

Rizzo Comments on Arroyo’s Injury, Timeline

Saturday, March 19 

Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Arroyo’s rotator cuff tendons are partially torn but noted that was consistent with previous MRIs. He continued, saying the pitcher’s bursa sac has no issues and that he will be shut down for 10-14 days, with a full rehab likely to last four to six weeks. 

On Thursday, Arroyo previously told reporters that his rotator cuff is “significantly torn,” adding that he was waiting for a comparison to his last MRI and noted that it wasn’t “looking real good.”

“It’s either rehab or retire,” Arroyo said regarding his options prior to the new diagnosis. 

Injuries Nothing New to Arroyo 

The 39-year-old Arroyo hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since June 14, 2014. He underwent Tommy John surgery as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the middle of the season and sat out all of last year while continuing to rehab. 

Joel Luckhaupt noted Arroyo was the model of durability prior to that injury with 360 consecutive starts made, including at least 32 every year from 2005-13. 

The Nationals do have rotation depth with Tanner Roark and Joe Ross likely slotting in the last two spots. Top prospect Lucas Giolito could also make an impact this season, though he will begin the year in the minors. 

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Bronson Arroyo to Nationals: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

The Washington Nationals announced on Tuesday that they agreed to a deal with veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo

The team also revealed it was a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

Per Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, Arroyo will be receiving a $2 million base deal that is filled with incentives. He can earn up to $8 million if he makes 32 starts in 2016.     

Arroyo, 38, last pitched an MLB game in 2014, when he started 14 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks that season. He went 7-4 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 86.0 innings pitched. He missed all of the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, however.

Arroyo, who won a World Series title with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and was a 2006 National League All-Star and 2010 Gold Glove winner, is a possibility at the bottom of Washington’s rotation.

While he was never an elite pitcher, Arroyo was always an innings-eater who threw 175 or more innings in every season between 2004-2013 and posted 10 or more wins eight times in his career.

The Nationals will be hoping Arroyo can exceed expectations and fit into the fourth or fifth slot in the rotation, giving them quality starts and consistency. He won’t miss a ton of bats or overpower hitters, but he’s an experienced veteran option for Washington and offers it a solid potential option in the rotation. 

That kind of veteran experience could prove vital to a team that is looking to compete for the National League East in 2016.


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Elbow Injury Is Terrible News for Arizona Diamondbacks and Patrick Corbin

The season for the Arizona Diamondbacks might be over before it begins with the news, first reported by AZCentral’s Nick Piecoro, that the D’Backs’ young ace Patrick Corbin has a UCL tear in his elbow that might require Tommy John surgery. 

It’s the worst thing that could have happened to the D’Backs this spring outside of an injury to Archie Bradley or Paul Goldschmidt. Losing Corbin effectively takes Arizona out of the NL West picture. 

Piecoro reports that Corbin will likely get a second opinion this week, but more than likely this means Corbin will be heading toward surgery that will likely cost him the entire 2014 and part of the 2015 season as he rehabs from injury. 

The 24-year-old Corbin was one of Arizona’s bright stars last season, turning in a 14-8 record with a 3.41 ERA in 208.1 innings. It was good enough to land Corbin in the All-Star Game last year and allowed Arizona to project a rotation headed by Corbin and top prospect Bradley going into the future.

It’s hard to fault the D’Backs for anything that has happened to Corbin. His innings have increased at a normal pace over the past five seasons. Corbin pitched 144.2 innings in 2010 followed by 160.1 innings in 2011 and a 186.1 innings in 2012. It’s a gradual increase that led to Corbin passing the 200-innings barrier last season. 

The surgery and rehab alone isn’t a guarantee that Corbin will return to form. The D’Backs have to only look at Daniel Hudson‘s recovery from Tommy John surgery to know that nothing is guaranteed. Hudson was an extremely promising young pitcher who underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2012. While making a rehab start in June 2013, Hudson injured the elbow again, causing him to undergo a second Tommy John surgery that month. 

Outside of nine starts made in 2012, the 27-year-old Hudson may effectively lose almost three full seasons in the prime of his career. If the D’Backs are out of contention this summer, it makes very little sense to push Hudson at all in his recovery this season. 

In trying to look at the D’Backs 2014 campaign in a positive light, the hope was that a rotation built around Corbin and Bradley coupled with free agent Bronson Arroyo and the improved performance of veterans Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley and Brandon McCarthy would allow the D’Backs to contend for a playoff spot in 2014. 

Instead, the rotation stands in shambles before the season has even started. Arroyo has been dealing with a disk issue in his back for much of the spring, Cahill left Wednesday’s game after having a minor issue with his knee, and now Corbin is potentially lost for the season before even the first game is played. 

Randall Delgado should be the obvious answer to fill Corbin’s shoes. Delgado was a central piece in last winter’s Justin Upton deal, and now the D’Backs will get a chance to fully evaluate him this season. Delgado was 5-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 19 starts for Arizona in 2013. 

While it was hard to imagine the D’Backs contending for the NL West or a wild-card spot with Corbin, it is virtually impossible to see this pitching staff replacing Corbin and matching up with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants this season. Arizona simply doesn’t have the starting pitching to match up head-to-head. 

If Corbin has surgery this month, it effectively means he will be coming back next season after a 12-month absence with the hope of impacting the rotation by the middle of next season. That rotation figures to look very different then the one that takes the field this season. 

Unfortunately for the D’Backs, they continue to be snake-bit while attempting to get back into playoff contention. 

Information used from Nick Piecoro/AZCentral, Baseball-ReferenceWikipedia

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Injury Concerns for Bronson Arroyo and the Arizona Diamondbacks

Bronson Arroyo is having trouble with a slightly bulging disk in his back and was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The news first came from MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. 

In the overall scheme of things, it might turn out to be a minor issue. But, right now, it can’t be seen as anything other than a red flag for Arroyo and the 2014 D-backs. 

The 37-year-old Arroyo was signed late in the offseason to a two-year deal worth $23.5 million. Although I liked the signing of Arroyo, it seemed like the D-backs paid well above market value for a player who had few options at that point of the winter. 

Part of the attraction to Arroyo was his durability and the fact that the D-backs wouldn’t have to surrender a draft pick for signing him. The ability to pencil in Arroyo for 200 innings, double-digit wins and the knowledge that he would take the ball every fifth day was a very valuable thing for the D-backs to bank on.

If Arroyo comes to the desert and immediately starts having health issues, then this deal will lead to a lot of questions for D-backs general manager Kevin Towers. Towers doesn’t sound too concerned yet in this article from AZ Central’s Zach Buchanan. There still is time in the spring and Arroyo has a history of overcoming injuries and illness as Towers points out. 

Towers had to bring in a veteran arm like Arroyo due to the inconsistency and struggles of Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill. The D-backs are giving both pitchers plenty of opportunity to gain spots in the starting rotation this spring, but have no idea what to expect from either. The early returns show that McCarthy has been very good while Cahill has continued to struggle. Both pitchers will need to give the D-backs more this year. 

Which is why the signing of Arroyo was so important for Arizona. He has been nothing but consistent in his major league career, giving the D-backs some stability in the rotation to go along with young lefties Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley. Arroyo also allows the D-backs to take their time with talented prospect Archie Bradley, although he has been very impressive this spring. 

But, a bulging-disk issue for a 37-year-old starting pitcher has to be a concern, especially when Arroyo just passed a team-administered physical in order to be signed. Which means that this injury, even if it is minor, is something that has come about since Arroyo signed with Arizona.

Arroyo will be shut down for seven to 10 days in order to give his back time to heal. Arroyo was already behind the rest of the pitching staff after signing right before the D-Backs reported for spring training. This might raise the question of his ability to be on the 2014 Opening Day roster.

This delay could allow the D-backs to take it very easy with Arroyo. By having him start the season on the disabled list, it would allow the D-backs to target the first week of April without having Arroyo rush back to meet an arbitrary deadline. The team could also get Bradley’s feet wet at the major league level. 

If the D-backs are to contend for a playoff spot this year, they will need Arroyo to be healthy and in the starting rotation. 


Information used from Steve Gilbert/MLB.com, Baseball-Reference, Zach Buchanan/AZ Central,

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2014 MLB Payroll Paints an Ugly Picture for Arizona Diamondbacks

The payroll numbers don’t lie and they tell a very disturbing story for the 2014 Arizona Diamondbacks and their potential fortunes for the upcoming season. 

Arizona looks to be on the books for roughly $104 million for the upcoming season, which on the surface might seem like a realistic number for a middle-market franchise like the D’Backs. Looking at the numbers a little deeper and it is easy to see why D’Backs ownership might have been initially reluctant to pick up the option of general manager Kevin Towers. 

Towers has done an extremely poor job of spending the team’s money and identifying players to sign and build around. Of the $104 million, Towers has spent roughly $27.6 million trying to sign the same type of pitcher. First it was Trevor Cahill, then it was Brandon McCarthy. Towers must now hope that the third time is the charm with the recent signing of Bronson Arroyo, which was first reported by 98.7 Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro.

Having Arroyo is fine, but paying all three pitchers roughly $27 million combined this season really hurts trying to build the rest of the roster. 

The outfield is another area where the D’Backs have spent money with very little return to speak of. Last season, the team signed Cody Ross, eventually to replace the departed Justin Upton. The only problem is that Ross was injured for most of the season and enters this season as a giant question mark as he recovers from a bad hip injury suffered last August. 

Ross sits on the books at $9.5 million for this season and next. Ross will also likely sit on the bench with the D’Backs having acquired Mark Trumbo earlier this winter and the re-signing of outfielder Gerardo Parra. Even with the $19.1 million tied up in Ross, Trumbo and Parra, the D’Backs will still likely receive below-average production from their outfield this season and Trumbo‘s defense will be a concern in left field. 

The D’Backs need catcher Miguel Montero to have a serious rebound season in 2014 or legitimate questions will continue to be raised about his five-year deal for $60 million and how little return that Arizona has seen on its investment so far. 

The money spent on Ross, Parra, Montero, Trumbo, McCarthy, Cahill and Arroyo comes out to be $56.8 million this season, with only Trumbo looking like a potential core player past 2014. Throw in the $22 million due to Martin Prado and Aaron Hill and the $7 million golden parachute given to J.J. Putz this season, and the D’Backs will have over $85.8 million tied up in just 10 players. 

It means that the D’Backs have less then $20 million left to fill out the rest of the holes on the roster this season, illustrating the potential lack of depth that might hurt the team by continuing to trade prospects and young cost-controlled players. 

The masterstroke from Towers was getting a contract extension done with legitimate star Paul Goldschmidt before his breakout season in 2013. It was something that I advocated last March and something the team finally got done at the end of last March (ESPN story). Goldschmidt was one of the biggest bargains in sports last season outside of the Los Angeles Angels‘ Mike Trout, producing a ridiculous 7.1 WAR on a contract that paid him only $500,000. 

Outside of Trout, you could make the argument that Goldschmidt has the best contract in baseball over the next three seasons, with the D’Backs on the hook for a little over $10 million through the 2016 season. It’s value that the D’Backs will need, given the inefficient spending on the rest of the roster. 

It is also shows how much pressure there is on pitching prospect Archie Bradley to be as good as advertised when he finally makes the D’Backs rotation and how Arizona can ill-afford Patrick Corbin to have a sophomore slump in his second season. 

While $104 million might sound like a lot of money, it needs to be spent on the right players. If the D’Backs are going to contend in the future, it is something that they need to keep in the forefront of every deal that they make and every contract that they sign moving forward.

Information used from Cot’s Baseball Contracts/Baseball Prospectus, Baseball-ReferenceJohn Gambadoro/Arizona Sports, ESPN

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Bronson Arroyo Signing Is Wrong Move for Arizona Diamondbacks’ 2014 Plans

Leave it to the Arizona Diamondbacks to make a transaction that ought to have you scratching your head in bewilderment.

About said transaction, this happened on Friday: The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with veteran right-hander Bronson Arroyo. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com had the news first:

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Arroyo will make $9.5 million in 2014 and 2015 and has a $4.5 million buyout on an $11 million option for 2016. So he’ll make at least $23.5 million in two years, and potentially $30 million over three.

Because you read that first paragraph up there, you know I have some not-so-nice things to say about this deal. Before we get to those, I want to say some nice things first. It’s not like this is the worst deal ever made, after all. Another Barry Zito didn’t just happen.

For one, the money is fine by this market’s standards. Arroyo’s deal is essentially a modified version of Tim Hudson’s two-year, $23 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. And as I wrote last week, the $30 million Arroyo could earn over three years is perfectly fair given both his age and his track record.

Shoot, the guy’s a solid pitcher. He’s good for over 200 innings like clockwork. And while his peripherals are sketchy, you have to hand it to the guy for consistently posting ERAs in the 3.00s despite pitching at Great American Ball Park half the time.

So no, my issues aren’t with Arroyo’s contract or Arroyo himself. It’s how he fits with the Diamondbacks that bugs me.

Before the Diamondbacks signed Arroyo, their projected starting rotation looked like this:

  1. Patrick Corbin
  2. Trevor Cahill
  3. Wade Miley
  4. Brandon McCarthy
  5. Randall Delgado

Maybe they wouldn’t have ended up in that exact same order, but it was going to be those five guys. Not a bad rotation, at that.

But not a great rotation either. The Diamondbacks seemed to realize that, as ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported in December that Arizona wanted to add a “top-of-the-rotation starter.” You know, somebody like David Price or Jeff Samardzija off the trade market, or Masahiro Tanaka off the open market.

Adding one of these guys would have made sense. The top of Arizona’s rotation would have gotten a boost, and the ripple effect most likely would have been Delgado being booted from the mix. He was the weak link in Arizona’s rotation last year, after all, finishing with a 0.2 fWAR.

Well, the Diamondbacks didn’t get one of those guys. They got Arroyo. Now that he’s in, Delgado is very likely still the odd man out. While that may look like a good swap considering Arroyo’s track record, here’s the thing:

If you look at certain numbers, he and Delgado are basically the same pitcher.

Via FanGraphs, here are the “certain numbers” worth looking at, all of which are strictly from 2013:

Delgado was better at striking guys out. Arroyo was better at not walking guys and getting ground balls. But the differences in those three categories are very slight, and that speaks to the reality that both pitchers are certainly more crafty than overpowering.

And as far as xFIP—a version of FIP that tries to normalize a pitcher’s home run rate—is concerned, Delgado’s crafty style was every bit as effective as Arroyo’s crafty style. That xFIP column, which shows xFIP figures scaled to league average, says the same thing. SIERA, or “Skill-Interactive ERA,” is yet another sabermetric thingamajig that says the two pitchers were basically clones in 2013.

Delgado will only be 24 in 2014. He’s under club control through 2018. He’s not going anywhere, and he’s going to be cheap for a while. Yet this didn’t stop the Diamondbacks from agreeing to pay $23.5 million for Arroyo to basically be an older, more expensive Randall for a couple of years.

Now, OK, sure. You can argue that the expense is justified by the fact that Arroyo is a proven innings-eater, something Delgado is not. The Diamondbacks are very likely to get a couple 200-inning seasons out of Arroyo, which is not a bad thing.

But let’s give Delgado some due credit. He pitched 114.1 innings in 19 starts in 2013, an average of six innings per start. Before Arizona signed Arroyo, the Steamer projections had Delgado down for 182 innings in 32 starts. A bit conservative, perhaps, but fair enough.

So in all likelihood, the Diamondbacks aren’t paying $9.5 million a season for Arroyo to rack up dozens more innings than Delgado. Since he hasn’t pitched any more than 202 innings in any of the last three seasons, he’s likely to only give them maybe 20 more innings than Delgado might have given them.

That’s not that many extra innings for so many extra dollars. The Diamondbacks have upgraded, but it’s not nearly the kind of upgrade they had in mind when they conjured plans to go acquire a top-of-the-rotation starter.

The good news for Delgado is that he’ll still be needed, of course. It stands to reason that he’s now the first in line to step into the rotation in the event of an injury. And when you have Brandon McCarthy on your staff, it’s a good idea to have a guy like that.

But with Delgado lower on the rotation ladder, another guy who’s now lower is Archie Bradley. That might not be the best thing for the Diamondbacks.

Bradley is the top pitcher in MLB.com’s prospect rankings, and he looks darn near ready for the show after posting a 1.97 ERA in 21 starts at the Double-A level in 2013. In fact, Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com wrote just this week that Bradley doesn’t hesitate to say he’s ready for the majors. And with spring training coming up, he was hoping to put his foot in the door.

“My goal isn’t to win the fifth spot,” said Bradley, “it’s to make them, every day when they go into meetings, have to think, ‘Hey, he’s doing everything he can. He’s putting pressure on us.'”

Who knows? Maybe Bradley could have won the No. 5 spot in Arizona’s rotation this spring by dominating while Delgado or one of the veterans struggled. Either that, or he could have stepped in early on in the season after an injury or a demotion. In effect, he had a shot to be what Gerrit Cole was for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.

With Arroyo coming aboard, though, the possibility of Bradley being the next Cole just got a little more unlikely. Given Bradley’s absurd talent, it’s possible that the Diamondbacks will now miss out on a handful of dominant starts in 2014. Maybe even more than a handful.

One can think of worse ripple effects than that, to be sure, but that the Diamondbacks were comfortable with allowing it to happen is puzzling. Bradley’s a guy they should want on a fast track to the majors, and they just buried him a little deeper. That they did so for the sake of paying big bucks for a piece of equipment they already had only makes it more puzzling.

But then, these are the Diamondbacks. They couldn’t wait to get rid of Justin Upton. They couldn’t wait to get their hands on Mark Trumbo. Lest we forget, they also dealt a solid third base prospect for a relief pitcher.

You never know what they’ll do next. All we know is that Diamondbacks gonna Diamondbacks.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.


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Bronson Arroyo Agrees to Deal with Arizona Diamondbacks

Veteran MLB pitcher Bronson Arroyo has reportedly agreed to a contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was first to break the news:

MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert confirmed the deal with a team source.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick has more:

Buster Olney broke down the money:

The 36-year-old Arroyo is approaching the end of his career and has managed to put in 10 consecutive seasons as a consistent starting pitcher.

Despite sporting an unglamorous 4.19 career ERA, Arroyo has remained a fixture in the MLB and generated plenty of interest as a free agent this winter for his longevity. As ESPN.com expert Jayson Stark highlights, Arroyo is tied with Dan Haren for the most starts (297) among major league pitchers since the beginning of the 2005 season.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reported on Wednesday, Feb. 5 that the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles were all interested in acquiring the right-handed hurler:

An uneven stretch with the Cincinnati Reds has taken up a good portion of Arroyo’s playing days, and his career record is 138-127.

However, health is as valuable of a commodity as MLB clubs can hope for. That caused one American League executive to sympathize with Arroyo’s lack of understanding as to why it took so long for a deal to be struck, per Stark’s report:

I’m not surprised that he doesn’t get it, because I don’t get it, either. I guess people are concerned about his age [he turns 37 next month]. But he’s 37 going on 27. He’s got a loose, limber body. He’s never been on the DL. He never misses a start. He doesn’t cost you a draft pick. He’s a tremendous teammate. He’s helped a lot of [young] pitchers on his team. So I don’t understand it. I really don’t.

With a diverse pitching arsenal headlined by an effective curveball, power pitching has never been Arroyo’s modus operandi. Instead, he relies on a lot of movement and manipulation on his fastball, a deceptive delivery and differing arm angles to throw hitters off.

One area Arroyo has seldom gotten opportunities to shine is the playoffs, where he notched his first victory in 13 appearances in Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS.

Arizona is banking on Arroyo’s improved play and long-term sustenance in the past two seasons, where he’s posted WHIP numbers of 1.21 and 1.15, respectively. He hasn’t gotten ideal run support and has played in a hitter-friendly ballpark. That helps to explain his combined record of 26-22 in that span.

Pitching to contact is a dangerous philosophy for an aging arm such as Arroyo to have, but he’s evidently shown enough that he can continue to contribute to an MLB rotation.

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Predicting 4 Pre-Opening Day Moves That Will Shake Up the League

In most years, the free-agent market would be barren in early February. Roster upgrades would be difficult to find, leaving general managers scouring for low-risk, high-reward options to augment their respective rosters.

This year is different.

With pitchers and catchers reporting over the next week, an abundance of talent is still available on the free-agent market. Sure, the Masahiro Tanakas and Robinson Canos of the world are long gone. That doesn’t mean difference-making players aren’t available.

Between now and March 31—or March 22 and 23 in the case of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks—moves will be made before the season begins. 

The following five teams will all fill holes, add impact players and change their respective outlooks for the 2014 season.


Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Begin Slideshow

Why Are Teams so Afraid of Free-Agent Starter Bronson Arroyo?

Anybody interested in a guy who has logged at least 199 innings in nine straight seasons and has posted ERAs under 4.00 in four of the past five?

Knowing that the guy those numbers belong to is still floating on the free-agent waters, apparently not. And figuring out why that’s the case is harder than it should be.

The guy we’re talking about is Bronson Arroyo, who’s spent the past eight years with the Cincinnati Reds. Those are his numbers up there. You’d think they’d have landed him a contract by now. But they haven’t, and the veteran right-hander doesn’t get it.

Arroyo told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that he’s gotten nibbles from a dozen teams, but no actual offers yet. And in the wake of Clayton Kershaw signing a $215 million extension and Masahiro Tanaka signing a $155 million contract, he had this to say:

I get [Clayton] Kershaw. I get why he got all that money. But then you’ve got guys like Dice-K [Matsuzaka], who came over here and was good for the first couple years but then didn’t pan out. And when he doesn’t pan out, they all just forget and go on to the next guy who’s not proven, and pay him.

Meanwhile, they forget about guys like me, who have done the job for the last eight or 10 years, and treat them like they’ve never done anything in this game. That’s hard, man.

Frustration, thy name is Arroyo. And in his case, one does sympathize. 

Stark says Arroyo’s goal has been a three-year deal worth around $30 million, which sounds fair enough for a guy who has been good for 200 innings like clockwork for almost a decade.

True, Arroyo is getting up there in age, as 2014 will be his age-37 season. But considering how Tim Hudson, age-38 in 2014, and Bartolo Colon, age-41 in 2014, both got two-year deals, Arroyo getting a three-year deal fits with what’s gone down this winter.

Helping Arroyo’s cau…Or, at least, what should be helping his cause is the fact that his injury track record is laughably cleaner than those of Hudson and Colon.

Arroyo has never been on the disabled list, and three of the eight injuries listed on his Baseball Prospectus page were caused by batted balls. Take those out of the equation, and you’re left with even more of a portrait of a guy whose body just doesn’t break down.

Because Arroyo is still a pitcher, his track record of clean health isn’t a guarantee. But when guys like Hudson and Colonwho have 17 DL stints and four surgeries between them—are getting multiyear contracts, a wild guess says it’s not health concerns that are scaring teams away from Arroyo.

Another wild guess says that teams probably aren’t hung up on Arroyo possibly losing any of his stuff. He’s been getting by with subpar velocity his whole career, and it’s remarkable how Arroyo’s velocity really hasn’t become that much more subpar over time.

Arroyo’s average fastball velocity in 2004, according to FanGraphs, was 88.6 miles per hour. In 2013, it was 87.2. As far as velocity regressions over the course of a decade go, that’s perfectly acceptable.

What’s more is that the minor velocity loss Arroyo has experienced isn’t entirely owed to aging. It’s partially owed to his increased reliance on his sinker, illustrated here with data from Brooks Baseball:

That’s a picture of a man embracing a fastball that’s less likely to get elevated, and it has worked. Arroyo has given up far fewer fly balls with his sinker than he used to with his four-seamer.

That Arroyo has put more trust in his sinker and has been able to use it effectively is yet another encouraging thing. His arsenal has always been about smoke and mirrors. Now that his four-seamer has been all but abandoned in favor of his sinker, he doesn’t throw anything that doesn’t have movement. His arsenal has become even more smokey-and-mirrors-y.

So if that’s not an issue…and if his health isn’t an issue…then the lack of offers must be related to his performances, right?

That’s the best guess. And to this end, I wonder if prospective buyers are being a bit too picky.

Arroyo has one big selling point, and that’s his command. After climbing to 7.8 percent in 2008, his walk rates have dropped every year since. Among qualified starters, his 4.2 BB% over the past two years ranks third behind only Cliff Lee and Colon.

But as much as teams must like the sound of that, they might be too hung up on Arroyo’s major weaknesses: home runs and strikeouts.

There’s no ignoring Arroyo’s gopheritis. He’s given up at least 25 home runs every year since 2006, consistently posting HR/FB rates over 10 percent along the way.

As for the strikeouts, Arroyo’s basically the antithesis to what’s been happening in recent years. The past five seasons have been the only seasons in MLB history in which the league’s strikeout rate has been over 18 percent, yet Arroyo’s K% hasn’t climbed any higher than 15.5.

Here’s some jaw-dropping baseball analysis for you: Strikeouts are good, and home runs are bad. That Arroyo has been getting few of the former and has always given up a lot of the latter is, well, bad.

This is our excuse to turn to FIP. That’s “Fielding Independent Pitching,” and what it does is measure what a pitcher’s ERA should have been based on the thing he can control: walks, home runs, strikeouts and hit-by-pitches. Generally, if a guy’s ERA is notably better or worse than his FIP, something’s fishy.

So maybe it’s this that general managers are frightened of:

From 2000 right up until 2008, there wasn’t a whole lot of disagreement between Arroyo’s ERAs and his FIPs. Essentially, he was getting the ERAs he deserved.

Things have been different since 2009. Arroyo’s ERAs have been consistently lower than his FIPs. Even in that awful 2011 year when his ERA was 5.07, his FIP said he deserved something closer to 6.00.

Some (such as Dave Cameron of FanGraphs) have noted that today’s front offices are less trusty of ERA than they used to be. It’s possible this is the single biggest reality holding up Arroyo’s market, as teams might not be able to trust Arroyo’s recent collection of sub-4.00 ERAs.

I’m not going to say this isn’t a legit gripe. It is. If I’m a GM, the thought does cross my mind that signing Arroyo might mean falling into an ERA trap, and that said trap could cancel out whatever value I get from his innings.

There is, however, one thing to say in Arroyo’s defense: He’s no ordinary FIP-breaker.

Since FIP isn’t park-adjusted, it’s not uncommon for guys who pitch at good pitchers’ ballparks to consistently finish with ERAs under their FIPs. Matt Cain, for example, was the poster child for that for a while.

But this, obviously, is not a trend that applies to Arroyo. He’s spent the past eight years pitching at Great American Ballpark, one of the league’s most notorious launching pads. As such, you wonder whether Arroyo’s recent trend of outperforming his FIPs is owed to domination on the road away from GABP.

It’s not. Actually, it’s uncanny how much his home and road numbers over the past five seasons look like each other. Observe:

There are some small differences here and there, but on the whole, Arroyo was basically the same pitcher no matter where he was pitching. Given that this is a five-year sample size, it’s hard to call that good luck. And given the nature of the home ballpark he was pitching at, that his home and road numbers look so identical is an accomplishment.

This is not to discount FIP. It’s a stat that should be consulted. But if I’m a general manager, I’m intrigued by how Arroyo has consistently bested his FIPs despite pitching in an environment that should have made that impossible. That indicates that, hey, maybe he did deserve those ERAs.

So at the end, here’s us weighing the good and bad of Bronson Arroyo.

The good: He’s never been hurt, he never walks anybody, he has an impressive track record as an innings-eater despite doing it all with smoke and mirrors, and he has the repertoire to keep doing so.

The bad: His inability to strike hitters out and his inability to keep the ball in the yard don’t help his FIPs, and his FIPs say he’s really not that good.

But then the counterpoint for the bad: Maybe FIP isn’t the best stat for Arroyo.

Arroyo’s not an ace. If he was, there’d be more good, less bad and maybe more counterpoints for the bad. What’s up there is more of a profile of a good, solid pitcher. One who, going off this winter’s market prices, is worth around $10 million per year in a shorter deal.

Since that’s apparently more or less what Arroyo is hoping for, I’m with him in not knowing what the holdup is all about.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted/linked.


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Why Bronson Arroyo Would Be Bad Signing for Phillies’ 2014 Plans

Despite a relatively quiet offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies have not necessarily filled all of their holes. Outfielder Marlon Byrd might be a bust, while starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez is an unknown in a shallow stadium like Citizens Bank Park.

Although the Phillies have not been connected to many rumors since early December, one rumor recently emerged that was rather interesting. According to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, the Phillies were still potentially interested in signing starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo as of January 12.

The only appeal to Arroyo for the Phillies is that he doesn’t have a draft pick attached to him and doesn’t get hurt. But at what price will that cost the Phillies, both on the books and on the mound?

While it’s indisputable that the Phillies need some sort of starting pitching help, it shouldn’t come in the form of Arroyo by any means. Here’s why.


All advanced statistics used courtesy of FanGraphs.

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