Bronson Arroyo in Rare Company
It is rare that a pitcher is both physically healthy enough and good enough from a performance standpoint to throw 200 innings a season over a period of 5 plus years. I decided to go back 8 seasons, somewhat arbitrarily, to see who the best and most durable pitchers were over that period.
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From 2006 to 2013, ten pitchers have thrown an average of over 200 innings per season. Those ten names are:
CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren, Bronson Arroyo, James Shields, Matt Cain, Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee.
That list is full of some serious names. As such, the fWAR totals put up by those guys are also impressive. In order they are: 44.3, 44.0, 38.9, 34.1, 14.6, 28, 28.2, 24.5, 40.8, 40.1
One number should stick out like a sore thumb in that list. That would be Bronson Arroyo’s fWAR total over those 8 seasons: 14.6. That averages to just under 2 WAR per season. To put this in perspective, Arroyo has the 5th most innings pitched over this 8 year span, but ranks a lowly 61st in WAR put up during that time.
Arroyo is a name that has been thrown around as a potential Orioles target. In Arroyo, the O’s know exactly what they will be getting. A guy who eats a ton of innings, but doesn’t necessarily provide a ton of value while doing it. He’s an innings eater in every sense of the word.
Arroyo’s most likely outcome, if signed by an AL East team, would be slightly worse than Wei-Yin Chen. No doubt signing another Wei-Yin Chen would help this club, if for no other reason because it would give them someone to eat up innings that went to a myriad of below replacement level starters last year. He’s not however, someone that will provide a lot of upside for the club in terms of potential production.
It’s been said that Arroyo is searching for a three year deal and has yet to receive a firm offer. Several teams including Arizona have stated that they’d be interested in Arroyo at one or two years, but he doesn’t seem willing to budge on his contract duration. This is somewhat understandable because Arroyo watched an arguably less talented pitcher in Jeremy Guthrie sign for 3 years and $25 million in Kansas City. On the other hand, it’s clear from the deal Scott Feldman signed that this free agent market is not the same as the one Guthrie was in.
For the Orioles, there is certainly upside to bringing in someone like Arroyo. There would be significant positive ramifications to signing someone to anchor the back half of the rotation. It would mean Gausman spends more time in AAA, something that will likely help him long term. It would also mean that the O’s wouldn’t need to run out as many mediocre arms as they were forced to in 2013. On the flip side, the upside of a near $10 million AAV deal with a guy like Arroyo is basically nonexistent.
Bronson Arroyo isn’t the most exciting sign, nor will it get the fan base excited about the possibilities of another playoff run. That doesn’t mean he won’t help the team however, and that’s why you keep hearing the Orioles connected to him. There are other pitching options on the market, but they have their warts as well. They might require draft pick compensation, or demand a contract longer than what the Orioles are comfortable with. Bronson Arroyo is certainly far from a diamond in the rough, but there’s something to be said for the devil you know rather than the one you don’t.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, a player like Arroyo might end up being a necessary evil.