Bronson Arroyo Rumors
The Orioles introduced new outfielder Nelson Cruz today, and MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli has a transcript of the press conference. Cruz, of course, settled for a one-year, $8MM deal with Baltimore after previously declining a $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Rangers. "It was a frustrating process," said Cruz, "but I'm happy for the decisions that I made. I'm really excited for the opportunity." Here are more notes from the O's and the rest of the AL East:
- We learned previously that the Orioles had made a competitive offer for free agent starter Bronson Arroyo before he signed with the Diamondbacks, and now Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has the details. Baltimore ultimately offered Arroyo a $21.5MM guarantee over two years, including a third-year option that could have brought the total value to $33MM. The pitcher instead signed with Arizona for a $23.5MM guarantee, but his deal can only max out at $30MM if his option is exercised.
- Though agent Scott Boras softened his strong words towards the Blue Jays in comments today, he continued to implore the team to open its pocketbooks by saying that Toronto has a "rare opportunity" to add impact free agents because of its protected first-round draft picks, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (interview via Jeff Blair of Sportsnet 590 The FAN). In addition to its advantageous draft situation, Boras argued that the Jays have the "flexibility in the long term" to backload contracts.
- Boras said that client Stephen Drew could significantly upgrade the team's second base position, and that Drew would be willing to shift to the other side of the bag "if the club came and made the position a long-term one for him." Meanwhile, Boras argued that the switch-hitting Kendrys Morales would offer a better option against lefties than incumbent DH Adam Lind, who Boras said could be dealt for pitching. Toronto could recoup a future draft choice via qualifying offer when those players' deals end, the agent added.
- In spite of (or, perhaps in part, because of) their success last year, the Red Sox are sticking with their strategy of "caution and strict sensibility," writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. "We recognize that our goal is to be as good as we possibly can be in 2014 but also 2015 and 2016 and beyond," explains GM Ben Cherington. "To do what we want to do, year in and year out, there has to be integration of young players. We're not going to force that unless we're reasonably confident those guys can contribute right away."
The five-year, $32MM extension that Paul Goldschmidt signed last spring could now be "the most team-friendly [deal] in the game" in the wake of Goldschmidt's monster 2013 season, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. As Piecoro notes, the D'Backs saved themselves a lot of money by locking Goldschmidt up early, thus giving the club the financial flexibility to pursue the likes of Masahiro Tanaka and Shin-Soo Choo. Though Goldschmidt said he's satisfied with his contract, D'Backs CEO Derrick Hall said the team would be open adding more years to the contract beyond 2018, or reworking the deal entirely a few years down the road.
Here's some more from Arizona, all from Piecoro...
- The 2014 payroll projects to be the highest in Diamondbacks history, and GM Kevin Towers admitted there is little room for error if the team doesn't play up to expectations. "It's a critical probably two or three years here just because you've got guys that are kind of in their early 30s with long-term contracts, and it's not a lot of flexibility, if it's not the right recipe, to change it up," Towers said. While a losing season could put Arizona in the red, however, Hall said that the team can stand to lose some money now since their upcoming new TV contract will bring in major new revenues. "That's going to be a game-changer," Hall said. "We can bite the bullet a little bit the next couple of years to get there."
- If Bronson Arroyo is traded, Piecoro tweets, the $11MM team option in Arroyo's contract for the 2016 season increases to $13MM. The option would still cost Arroyo's team $4.5MM to be bought out.
- Arroyo, Hall, Towers, Kirk Gibson and D'Backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick all took part in a press conference today to officially announce Arroyo's signing. Towers said the decision to sign Arroyo came together quickly, and Arroyo said he appreciated how direct the D'Backs were with him, as he felt his free agent process was "a joke" and a "cat-and-mouse game." (Arroyo expressed his displeasure with his free agent experience last month to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.)
- Arroyo said he had "one or two discussions" with the Reds about a return, though Cincinnati was only willing to offer a one-year deal that included a lot of deferred money.
- Kendrick discussed several topics, such as the recent extensions given to Towers and Gibson, the payroll increase and Arizona's pursuit of Tanaka.
The Diamondbacks have been connected to multiple starting pitchers on both the free agent and trade markets this offseason, but it took until early February for the team to reel one in. The team today announced the signing of Bronson Arroyo to a two-year deal with a club option for the 2016 season. Arroyo is reportedly guaranteed $23.5MM in total. He will earn $9.5MM each in 2014 and 2015, and the club has a $11MM option for 2016 that comes with a $4.5MM buyout.
The length and total money in the deal comes in right under the prediction of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes. As Dierkes explained in his profile of Arroyo, the soon-to-be 37-year-old starter's high-floor/low-ceiling profile -- combined with his age -- made two years and $24MM a good target. Though Arroyo spent much of the off-season looking to add a third guarantee year, he ended up settling in just under the two-year, $26.5MM deal inked last year by Ryan Dempster with the Red Sox.
Arroyo, a client of Terry Bross and Turn 2 Sports Management, has been as consistent and durable a starter as the game has seen in recent years. Since 2004, Arroyo has logged at least 32 starts, logging at least 199 innings in all but the first of those campaigns. His cumulative ERA over that time is 4.10, a mark that he bested in each of the last two seasons (3.74 and 3.79 earned per nine, respectively).
Arroyo succeeds despite offering an 87 mph fastball, which he delivers in less than half of his pitches. He throws three varieties of off-speed pitches: slider, curve, and change. Though Arroyo does not strike out many batters, having hovered in the low-to-mid 5.0 K/9 range in recent seasons, neither does Arroyo hand out free passes. With just 1.2 and 1.4 BB/9 in the last two years, he has maintained a K:BB ratio of better than 3.6 over 2012-13, among the best in baseball. His biggest issue, perhaps, is a tendency to allow the long ball well above the league-average rate, though that is due in some part to spending his last eight years pitching in the homer-prone Great American Ball Park.
Arizona bolsters an already-deep rotation with the signing, which likely means that prized prospect Archie Bradley will not start the year with the big club. Arroyo joins Patrick Corbin, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, and Randall Delgado in the rotation mix.
Despite a fairly busy season on the pages of MLBTR, the Diamondbacks actually had inked just one guaranteed MLB deal (Eric Chavez, one year, $3.5MM) prior to landing Arroyo. Arizona apparently beat out two other clubs to sign the veteran, as the Dodgers and Orioles were also named as finalists for his services. The club had serious interest in adding young, unproven Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka, but instead ends up adding quite a different type of arm in Arroyo.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 first reported the deal on Twitter. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com first reported the length and option year (Twitter links). ESPN.com's Buster Olney first reported the financial terms (via Twitter). FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal first tweeted that Arroyo had passed his physical.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
32-year-old righty Rich Harden is not retiring, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Though he has not played professionally since 2011, and had a comeback bid with the Twins fall apart last year due to multiple, ongoing injury issues, Harden will apparently give it another go. Harden has been brilliant at times in his career, and owns a lifetime 3.76 ERA over 928 1/3 innings (including 9.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9).
Here are a few more notes to round out the evening:
- One factor in Bronson Arroyo's decision to sign with the Diamondbacks rather than the Orioles, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, was the fact that Baltimore had scrapped deals with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin over concerns with their physicals. The O's offer was on par with that of the D-Backs: it was for slightly less guaranteed money, but carried a greater third-year option value. While Connolly writes that other factors -- including a preference for the NL West -- certainly played a role, he says that the risk of a deal falling apart at this stage of the off-season weighed substantially in Arroyo's decision-making process.
- The Marlins have made clear that they hope to extend star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports that Stanton still wants to see what the organization does moving forward. "I want some team security as well," Stanton said. "I'm very pleased with how things panned out for me. But I would like to see it grow. I have my security, somewhat now. I'd like to see a team full of that, which we are going in the right direction." The 24-year-old slugger inicated that he does not expect to engage in talks until after the coming season. "In order for the team to have security," he said. "that doesn't happen in two seconds. That happens over a season or over two seasons. You show me that, and we can get something going."
- A major factor in the rebuilding process of another NL East club -- the Mets -- is the development of young catcher Travis d'Arnaud. Though he struggled at the plate in limited action last year, the backstop comes with an excellent pedigree with the bat. Promisingly, moreover, he also showed signs of adding value in another area, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com: in his short season of work at the MLB level, d'Arnaud flashed outstanding pitch-framing ability.
Padres fans got some welcome news this evening, as it was announced that Time Warner Cable will begin airing Padres games for the coming season, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs has explained, the failure of Time Warner (and, at the time, AT&T U-verse and DISH Network) to agree to the Fox Sports San Diego subscriber fee not only left many fans without access to games, but put a significant dent in the Friars' expected annual payout. Here's more from San Diego and the rest of the NL West:
- When the Padres inked reliever Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $14MM deal earlier in the off-season, it raised an immediate question whether he or incumbent Huston Street would close. As Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes, both back-end arms are content with the situation and their roles. "[Street] is going to shut the door," said Benoit, "and I'm going to try to give him as many games with leads as I can." For his part, Street -- whose deal includes a $7MM club option for 2015 -- says that he understands the business side of things and hopes only for success for his new teammate. "It's a smart move on the Padres' part," he said. "It gives them options for 2015. It gives them options if I go down. It gives them options if I struggle."
- After a breakout campaign last year put him in position for a nice payday as a Super Two, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt has yet to reach agreement with his club on a price for his 2014 season. The sides' filing figures ($3.6MM against $2.05MM) are the furthest apart in relative terms among remaining arbitration cases. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, however, it remains likely that a hearing will be avoided, as team and player both recently expressed an expectation that a settlement will be forthcoming.
- Despite adding another rotation arm in Bronson Arroyo, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that top prospect Archie Bradley can still earn a starting spot out of camp, reports FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder. "We want to get out of the gate quick," said Towers. "I've said from the beginning, with Archie, it's not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he's ready coming out of the spring and we're a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he's going to be there." Putting the 21-year-old on the MLB roster for Opening Day would mean giving up the ability to extend team control for an extra season, but Towers' statement indicates that is still a real possibility. (On the other hand, given that factor and Bradley's limited seasoning, it will probably be a tall order for him to unseat one of the expected five as a practical matter.) Fellow righty Randall Delgado would likely join the bullpen if he does not earn a turn in the rotation, said Towers, since he is out of options.
- The Arroyo signing has earned mixed reviews; as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth opined, for example, the $23.5MM guarantee that he received is a debatable investment in a market that promised Paul Maholm just $1.5MM. One under-the-radar issue with Arroyo, argues Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, is that his pronounced struggles against lefties have been masked somewhat by pitching in a division (the National League Central) that has not featured the volume of left-handed bats to take full advantage of the platoon split. In particular, Cameron says, should the Diamondbacks reach the post-season, Arroyo's achilles heel could significantly impair his usefulness to his new club.
MONDAY, 10:17pm: Burnett is in discussions with multiple teams, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
9:41pm: The Phillies are "very much still in the running" to land Burnett, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Though there is no indication that the sides are nearing a deal, says Zolecki, the likelihood has increased since Friday.
FRIDAY: The market for A.J. Burnett could be taking further shape, as Friday reports have indicated that a pair of previously listed suitors aren't likely landing spots. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that the Phillies aren't likely to add Burnett at this point in the offseason, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that things "don't look good" for the Orioles either.
Salisbury spoke with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and was told the following:
"I don’t suspect we’ll be doing anything. I think we’ve got what we’ve got. I suspect we’ll go into the season with what we’ve got – or at least spring training with what we’ve got. We’re always looking, always trolling. I know there are guys out there, but I don’t suspect us having anything major coming through."
In his tweet, Kubatko does note that while the Burnett-to-Baltimore scenario isn't completely dead, the sense is that his prerference is to pitch in the National League rather than return to the American League. Kubatko adds that the Orioles are still in the mix on Bronson Arroyo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-Min Yoon, however.
Recent reports stated that the D-Backs would have interest in Burnett, but they don't feel he'd want to pitch for a West Coast club. It sounds then, like Burnett's preference is to pitch for a Senior Circuit club on or near the East coast (he is a Maryland resident), which would bode well for the Pirates, especially if the Phillies are truly out of the mix. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore speculated earlier in the week that the Nationals could make a surprise push for Burnett, and I'd agree that the pairing would make sense, though there's been nothing concrete to connect the two sides to this point.
The free-agent market for starting pitching has been slow to develop this offseason, but now that Masahiro Tanaka has chosen a team, signings are trickling in. Two recent NL West contracts demonstrate how uncertain that market can be. The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with Bronson Arroyo on a two-year, $23.5MM deal that includes an option for 2016, and the Dodgers signed Paul Maholm for one year and $1.5MM guaranteed, with the chance to make up to $5MM more in incentives.
There are clear differences between the two pitchers -- Arroyo is a righty and Maholm is a lefty, and Arroyo has been the more durable of the two. That's a trend that might not persist, given that Arroyo is five years older than Maholm. But Maholm did miss a start in September due to elbow soreness (although an MRI revealed no structural trouble) and he pitched 49 fewer innings than Arroyo last year.
Arroyo and Maholm aren't that different, however. They're both low-upside, pitch-to-contact types who give their teams decent chances of winning as mid-rotation or back-of-the-rotation starters. And statistically, they're reasonably similar.
One could actually make the case that, over the past three seasons, Maholm has been better than Arroyo. As Fangraphs' David Cameron noted yesterday (via Twitter), Maholm appears to be quite a bargain in comparison. (I made a similar observation at my own blog.)
Others have noted the huge disparity between Maholm's contract and that of Jason Vargas, who received four years and $32MM from the Royals earlier this winter. Like Maholm, Vargas is a 31-year-old, pitch-to-contact lefty. Vargas has produced 4.5 WAR over the last three seasons, compared to 4.6 for Maholm.
The common thread here may be the perception that Arroyo and Vargas are more likely to give their new teams 200 innings. (Vargas only pitched 150 last season after missing time due to a blood clot, but he threw at least 201 in both 2011 and 2012.) If that's the case, however, the market seems to be overreacting. In theory, a team could easily get two Maholm-type fragile pitchers and hope for them to combine for 250 or so decent innings, rather than paying Arroyo or Vargas many times more. A team would have to clear an extra spot on its roster that way, but that seems like a small matter compared to the savings in dollars.
In fact, in a way, this seems to be what the Dodgers are doing -- they'll have Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren for the first four spots, and then Maholm, Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley will soak up the remaining innings. (Beckett and Billingsley are both returning from injury.) If Arroyo posts 200 innings, that's surely useful, but given that his innings aren't the highest quality, a team should be able to compensate for reduced back-of-the-rotation certainty with greater depth.
Among Arroyo, Vargas and Maholm, Maholm is probably the outlier. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes' projection for Arroyo's contract was almost exactly on the money, while Maholm's contract, at least the guaranteed portion, falls well short of Dierkes' projected one year and $7MM. Perhaps teams are simply extremely concerned about Maholm's elbow. (In fact, that seems at least somewhat likely, given Maholm's apparent openness to pitching in relief. One would think a pitcher of his caliber would be able to find a sure starting job somewhere.)
If not, though, Maholm's deal doesn't bode well for a pitcher like lefty free agent Chris Capuano. Capuano's value has been similar to Vargas or Maholm the past three seasons (with 4.8 total fWAR), but he only pitched 105 2/3 innings last year due to a series of injuries, and he has two Tommy John surgeries in his past. Given Capuano's tendency to pitch reasonably strong innings when healthy, though, he could give his next team great value. Maholm's contract could be a bargain for the Dodgers, and the team that picks up Capuano could be in line for a bargain as well.
The Diamondbacks' signing of Bronson Arroyo was a mistake, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Law argues that Arroyo's declining velocity, tendency to give up homers, and struggles with lefties all make him a bad bet for two years and $23.5MM. Arroyo allowed 32 homers last season (although 19 of them were in the Reds' homer-friendly ballpark), and lefties hit .295/.327/.529 against him. He's also had an average fastball velocity of about 87 MPH the past several seasons, which Law suggests has been one cause of his home-run problems. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- GM Billy Beane says the Athletics are done making significant moves this offseason, Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets. The A's have been busy this winter, adding Scott Kazmir, Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and Eric O'Flaherty to their pitching staff and Nick Punto to their infield. They also lost Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, and Chris Young via free agency, traded Brett Anderson and Jerry Blevins and signed Coco Crisp to an extension.
- Lefty reliever Bill Bray wants to continue his career, but might wait until May to sign, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter). Bray pitched just four games in the Nationals system in 2013, missing most of the season due to injuries. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2012 with the Reds.
- The Cardinals have the flexibility to make a significant move this spring, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. After the departures of Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and Rafael Furcal, among others, the Cardinals' payroll is down significantly from last season, even after the addition of Jhonny Peralta. Their free payroll and strong collection of young pitching mean they'll be able to make a big trade if the right opportunity presents itself.
- Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel looks ahead to the July 2nd market for international prospects. He notes rumors that Dominican third baseman Gilbert Lara already has a $3.2MM deal in place with the Brewers, not generally a team known for splashy international signings. Dominican shortstop Dermis Garcia, meanwhile, reportedly has a $3MM deal in place with the Yankees, who figure to be big spenders in the international market this summer.
Here's the latest on free agent situations around the league:
- Bronson Arroyo's decision came down to the Diamondbacks and the Orioles, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets, with Arroyo's preference to stay in the National League playing a role in his decision to sign with Arizona. Baltimore's best offer was "competitive" with the two-year, $23.5MM guarantee that Arroyo landed, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
- Reliever Ryan Madson hit 93 mph on the radar gun during an audition today in front of 15 clubs, reports Crasnick (via Twitter). Multiple teams have expressed interest in the one-time relief ace, who is working back after missing each of the last two seasons due to elbow issues. Madson's former club, the Phillies, are one of the teams that planned to watch Madson, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported earlier today.
- Another rehabbing pitcher, former ace Johan Santana, tweeted today that he started throwing off of a mound this week. Last we heard, Twins GM Terry Ryan suggested that Santana probably would not be ready to throw competitive pitches until the summer.
- Multiple teams have shown interest in free agent reliever Brandon Lyon, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 34-year-old threw 34 1/3 innings of 4.98 ERA ball for the Mets last year, but advanced metrics (3.98 FIP, 4.48 xFIP, 4.38 SIERA) put a somewhat more positive spin on things.
- Free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel told SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (hat tip to Cotillo, on Twitter) that he is still open to playing. But having yet to hear from clubs with interest, Ankiel says he is "in a holding pattern."
2:55pm: Arroyo may have a clearer picture of where he's going to land by the end of the day today, a baseball source tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
FRIDAY, 12:44pm: Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that Arroyo will end up signing with either the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks.
THURSDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Arroyo's camp has lowered the asking price to the two-year, $22MM range, and the Orioles and Diamondbacks are "definitely pushing" for the veteran righty.
WEDNESDAY, 9:32pm: The D'Backs are "very serious" about signing Arroyo and are planning to meet with him, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
2:11pm: The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Orioles are the three finalists to land free agent starter Bronson Arroyo, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Among those clubs, the Diamondbacks are "slight favorites" to lock up the soon-to-be 37-year-old.
We heard recently that Arroyo had yet to receive a firm offer, but reported interest has never waned in the durable righty. Another recent report suggested that Arroyo has continued to ask clubs for a third guaranteed year. Arizona, a newer entrant to the chase for Arroyo, is said to be interested in a two-year pact.