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February 3, 2014

Rumor Roundup

Scoping Out the Less Expensive Starters

by Daniel Rathman

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Diamondbacks could enter the slow-developing Bronson Arroyo market
After failing to secure a frontline starter to lead their 2014 rotation, the Diamondbacks might be setting their sights a little lower: According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, general manager Kevin Towers is now eyeing Bronson Arroyo.

The offseason has been at least as frustrating for Arroyo as it has been for the Diamondbacks, who were tied to Shin-Soo Choo and Masahiro Tanaka but have thus far come away with only Mark Trumbo. Numerous teams—a dozen, per the right-hander himself—have reached out, but not a single one of them made its interest official. Arroyo told ESPN’s Jayson Stark last week, “I don’t even have an offer to turn down.”

Clubs’ wariness of signing a pitcher who will turn 37 later this month is understandable. But Arroyo has arguably been the most durable starter in the league over the past nine years, making at least 32 starts and working at least 199 innings in every season. It’s difficult to believe that his agent, Terry Bross, hasn’t fielded a single proposal all winter—and SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was told by a source that you probably shouldn’t.

In last week’s Lineup Card, R.J. Anderson identified the Royals as a potential landing spot for Arroyo (albeit before Bruce Chen re-signed with Kansas City). The Orioles have more than $15 million to spend before the end of the offseason, and while their first choice is said to be A.J. Burnett, Arroyo could become a fallback plan if the former Pirate, who turned 37 on January 3, signs elsewhere.

And if Arroyo’s tires were to their liking, the Diamondbacks might make an offer as well. Arroyo has generally been a fly-ball pitcher, which led to home-run trouble in the compact dimensions of Great American Ball Park, but he has overcome that by limiting walks and faring better than most pitchers do on balls in play. He has held opponents to a BABIP of .286 or lower in every season since 2009, and his ERA has consistently come in 0.3-0.8 runs below his FIP. If Arroyo could pitch well in Cincinnati, he shouldn’t be spooked by Chase Field.

The trouble is, ESPN’s Buster Olney heard as recently as Friday that Bross is still asking clubs to make a three-year commitment. That might explain why his client hasn’t seen many (if any) contracts on the table. And even if the Diamondbacks do enter the market at this late stage, it’s unlikely that Towers will go to three years.

Chris Capuano halves his asking price
Among the starting pitchers still on the market, Chris Capuano is probably in the third tier, with Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana occupying the first and Arroyo a notch below them. The 35-year-old left-hander made two trips to the disabled list last year—the first with a calf strain, the second with a shoulder strain—and he spent the month of September nursing a groin strain that, in tandem with the earlier ailments, limited him to 105 2/3 innings over 24 appearances (20 starts).

At this stage of his career, more than five years removed from his second Tommy John surgery, Capuano is a one-win pitcher when healthy, and staying healthy has never been his strong suit. His two-year, $10 million deal with the Dodgers, which expired when general manager Ned Colletti declined his end of a mutual option for 2014, contained innings-based bonuses for each season, which Capuano reached in 2012 but failed to attain in 2013.

Earlier this winter, Capuano was angling for another two-year contract, perhaps with salaries once again tied to starts or innings pitched. No one bit. So now, sources told Olney that Capuano’s agent, Michael Moye, is willing to settle for a one-year pact that would give the southpaw another chance to reestablish his durability.

With a pitcher-friendly park and a shallow rotation, the Angels might be an obvious landing spot for Capuano—if they end up adding a pitcher. Los Angeles Times beat writer Mike DiGiovanna isn’t sure they will, but he believes that they would choose Capuano over Arroyo and Paul Maholm. Jason Hammel, the other pitcher DiGiovanna mentioned, has since signed a one-year, $6 million contract with the Cubs.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

2 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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jwise224

The Diamondbacks don't need Bronson Arroyo. They have a solid rotation already with impact arms on the way. The only conceivable argument that can be made is that he can push Randall Delgado to the bullpen, and Delgado can then fill in the rotation if/when Brandon McCarthy and others get hurt. That's not much of an upgrade, especially considering that Archie Bradley will be up right around the All Star Break.

They were looking for a "#1 Starter" because they're already solid throughout the rotation. Needless to say, Arroyo's not a #1 (or #2, or #3 for that matter) and he's simply not an upgrade over what they have. This isn't a team looking for a bulk of mediocre innings, this is a team with expectations to compete for the division. Of course, whether they do or not is another story.

Feb 03, 2014 08:04 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

You're right about that—and I don't see them doing it unless it's a good value. A three-year deal between Arroyo and the Diamondbacks would shock me. My guess is that they're "kicking the tires" in case the price comes down to one year, but in that case, there would be needier suitors.

Feb 03, 2014 13:30 PM
 
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