It's January and most of the bigger names on the starting pitching free agent market are still available, and the Baltimore Orioles are among several teams still in dyer need of adding a quality arm to their rotation. One of the guys Baltimore has been linked to all offseason has been RHP Bronson Arroyo.
Baltimore needs starting pitching, let's face it, that is the case for 90% of teams in the league and has been the case in Charm City for over a decade. The O's do have a solid core in place for 2014, and although Chris Tillman broke through with a 16 win season and threw over 200 innings, Baltimore still needs a top of the rotation arm that is not only a quality arm, but can stay healthy and eat up some innings. Arroyo may be the absolute best fit on the free agent market for the Birds, and although it was once again reported that the Orioles are interested in him, the fact of the matter is that they have been interested since free agency began, but interest and actually trying to sign him are two different things.
We have touched on them before, but there are plenty of pro's supporting Baltimore in signing Arroyo. The 36 year old is not looking for a long term deal at his age because no one is going to give it to him, thus the Orioles fondness of short term deals with pitchers fits right into Arroyo's profile. Secondly, and probably the most important aspect of his attraction as a free agent is his durability. Arroyo has pitched 200 or more innings every season but one since 2005 and that one season he didn't, he threw 199 innings. In addition, he has also made 29 or more starts every season since 2004, and Baltimore could certainly use an arm like that in their rotation as much as their bullpen has been overworked these past two seasons.
Arroyo is not just an innings eater, he is a quality pitcher as well. He may not be that ace the team needs, but he is certainly a solid number two who has boasted a sub four ERA in four of the last five seasons for the Cincinnati Reds. He currently boasts a career 4.19 ERA over 14 seasons in the big leagues and that number would be much lower if not for his first two seasons in Pittsburgh in 2000, 2001. Let's not forget that he used to pitch for the Red Sox and is well aware of what it takes to pitch in the AL East.
Baltimore has yet to acquire a quality arm, and reports out of the Warehouse are that Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette still wants to do just that and Arroyo fits almost every aspect the Orioles need in the rotation. Also, since backing out of the Grant Balfour deal, Baltimore has yet to really use the money they saved from shipping Jim Johnson to Oakland, which we were all told the money saved would be reallocated to help fill other needs, and call us crazy, but the starting rotation is one of those needs.
The question with the Orioles, as it always is when it comes to acquiring players is money. Arroyo has made more than $10 million per year in four of the last five seasons and will likely be looking for a two year deal with an option for a third at around $9-11 million per. We all know Baltimore does not like to spend that kind of coin on a pitcher, but when you can acquire a guy who has a long track record of staying healthy, pitching 200+ innings and keeping that ERA under four, he should be a guy you are willing to spend money on.
The starting pitching free agent market remains at a standstill until the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes are complete, but once Tanaka signs, these guys are going to come off the market in a hurry. In the end, we do not believe that Baltimore will go against their own grain and spend the money it would take to land Arroyo, and another contributing factor here is that he may not want to leave the National League. Only time will tell in that regard, but if the Orioles ever wanted to surprise the baseball world, spending money on Arroyo would certainly do that.
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