Padres at least keeping tabs on Ian Desmond
Ian Desmond played shortstop last year. The Padres’ projected starting shortstop is Alexi Amarista, producer of a .205 TAv in 357 plate appearances last season. Ian Desmond is available. Which also means that, despite the obviousness of the match, he’s not yet donning San Diego’s new (old) colors.
FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi heard over the weekend that general manager A.J. Preller is in “ongoing discussions” with Desmond’s agent, Doug Rogalski, who has the unenviable task of marketing a player coming off a poor contract year. Desmond saw his value dip from a career-high 4.4 WARP in 2014 to a full-season low of 2.4, dragged down by a 17-point dip in TAv (to .254) and middling play in the field. Teams still in need of a shortstop might find the 30-year-old to be a worthwhile investment, but as Morosi pointed out, there just aren’t many teams with a hole at the six spot and money to burn.
Aside, of course, from the Padres, who’ve been relatively quiet this offseason after lighting up the hot stove time and time again last winter. San Diego’s primary move was an export, sending Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox for a big prospect haul that set the market for the Astros’ acquisition of Ken Giles. With that, the Padres have just $64.5 million in guaranteed payroll commitments for 2016, excluding hefty arbitration raises for third-time eligibles Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, both of whom have appeared intermittently in trade rumors since the end of the season.
The fit and cash are there, but while all signs might point to Desmond landing in San Diego, Preller and the Padres are equally aware of the shortstop landscape. A lack of demand elsewhere could help them to overcome the limited supply by playing the waiting game, provided that Desmond is unwilling to explore a position change.
On the other hand, if Desmond would consider moving out off the only position he’s played since 2011, a host of new options could open up. He might, for instance, become a buy-low alternative to the big-ticket outfielders still searching for new homes. For instance, ESPN’s Buster Olney speculated that the Giants could enter the Desmond market, eyeing him for a multi-position role that could involve time in the outfield as well as at second base, where Joe Panik is coming off a lingering back injury.
But the Giants have already spent big on pitching, and the Padres, despite having a considerably smaller overall payroll, might have more room left in their budget. Adequate shortstops are more valuable than outfielders, all else being equal, so it’s a reasonable bet that Desmond and the Friars will eventually come together, even if the sides string each other along well into the new year.
Bronson Arroyo could return to the Reds
After spending eight quietly consistent—32-35 starts, 199 or more innings—seasons with the Reds, Bronson Arroyo has had an eventful past couple of years since officially leaving Cincinnati as a free agent in February 2014. Arroyo signed a two-year, $23.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks, made 14 starts for them before undergoing Tommy John surgery, and was then dumped on the Braves, who took on a highly regarded pitching prospect (Touki Toussaint) in exchange for paying Arroyo’s salary. Arroyo was subsequently shipped to the Dodgers in the three-way deal that also brought Alex Wood, Mat Latos, Jose Peraza, Jim Johnson, and Luis Avilan to Los Angeles.
So, the onetime workhorse is now a two-time salary dump. In the last 11 months, he’s been property of three organizations and only worn one of their uniforms. The Dodgers gladly swallowed a $4.5 million buyout in lieu of retaining the right-hander on a $13 million club option, and now—after experiencing the scary world outside—he’s free to return to Cincinnati.
MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon revealed on Twitter that the Reds are open to a reunion with the 38-year-old Arroyo, who could serve as a wily veteran in a staff otherwise stocked with youngsters behind fellow torn-UCL victim Homer Bailey. Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb, and Brandon Finnegan comprise the depth chart at this juncture and would project to be the five-man rotation if Bailey is forced to begin the season on the DL. It’s not hard to see how Arroyo could fit in.
But there is still the small matter of his right elbow, no given considering he went under the knife in his late-30s, and the Reds will probably wait to see how his rehab progresses through the winter. The interest is mutual, based on Arroyo’s interview with WCPO’s John Fay in December, in which he also revealed that he hoped to begin throwing again soon. As the pitching market thins, multiple teams might consider the righty, but he’s a good bet to wind up back in southwest Ohio if his arm comes around.