Jayson Stark: Bronson Arroyo
January, 29, 2014
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
Bronson Arroyo doesn't get it. And how can you blame him?
He's thrown at least 199 innings in nine seasons in a row. He's never spent 15 minutes, let alone 15 days, on the disabled list. There isn't a pitcher in the entire sport who has started more games than he has since 2005.
And where has it gotten him? To the unemployment line. That's where.
He was going along fine for one month, then two, then three, this winter. But when he saw the Yankees just fire $155 million at a man who had never thrown a pitch in the big leagues -- Masahiro Tanaka -- Arroyo's frustrations finally boiled over.
"I get [Clayton] Kershaw," Arroyo told ESPN.com. "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.
AP Photo/Al BehrmanBronson Arroyo won 14 games, pitched 202 innings and had a sub-4.00 ERA last season, yet he's still among the unemployed.
"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."
Arroyo said 12 teams have made contact with his agent, Terry Bross, this winter, but he hasn't gotten close to a deal with any of them. And it's the last week of January.
"I don't even have an offer to turn down," he said. "So I might still be sitting here on March 1. I have no idea."
His old team, the Reds, loves him but is ready to move on. He had strong interest from the Twins earlier in the offseason, but they re-signed Mike Pelfrey instead. And while Arroyo has been linked to a long list of teams at various times -- Orioles, Dodgers, Mariners, Mets, Angels, Phillies, Pirates, etc. -- he's still in limbo, along with a surprising number of other veteran starters.
"I don't know what to do," Arroyo said. "I'm not trying to break the bank. But I am a guy who's performed for the last 10 years as consistently as anybody in the game. And for some reason, nobody's thrown me an offer yet."
So how consistent has Arroyo been? He and Mark Buehrle are the only pitchers in baseball who have pitched 199 innings or more in every one of the past nine seasons. Only CC Sabathia and Dan Haren have thrown more total innings than the 1,895.2 Arroyo has pitched over those nine years. And he and Haren are tied for the most games started in the big leagues in that period, with 297, an average of 33 a year.
Not to mention: He's had a sub-4.00 ERA, despite pitching in a hitter's paradise in Cincinnati, in four of the past five years. The Reds have had a better winning percentage in his starts since 2008 (.531) than they've had when other pitchers started (.522). And his walk rate has gone down in five straight seasons.
For much of the offseason, Arroyo was looking for a three-year guaranteed deal worth slightly more than $30 million, according to teams that have spoken with him. But an executive of one club now expects him to wind up with two years, plus an option, at around the same AAV. Which still would make him a cheaper buy than Ricky Nolasco, Scott Kazmir or Scott Feldman were this winter. And Arroyo has outperformed them all.
"I'm not surprised that he doesn't get it, because I don't get it, either," said one AL exec whose team isn't a fit. "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."
Arroyo jokes about being this year's Kyle Lohse, "throwing against my high school baseball team in March to stay sharp." But he keeps telling himself that scenario makes no sense.
"I know, eventually, it'll get done," he said. "There are too many holes in too many rotations, and there aren't enough pitchers out there who can throw you 200 innings. So I'm just sitting here waiting for an offer."
And if he's still waiting a month from now, we'll know this starting-pitcher market has officially turned into one of the weirdest ever.