Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings got going Monday in Orlando, and although the first report during them involving the Pittsburgh Pirates isn’t the most breathtaking thing in the world, it does come with a little nostalgia.
As reported this morning by Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pirates beat man Rob Biertempfel, the Bucs are looking into acquiring the services of free-agent pitcher Bronson Arroyo. The durable 36-year-old right-handed starter has pitched for the Cincinnati Reds for the past eight seasons, following a three-year stint in Boston.
Before that, Arroyo appeared in 53 games from 2000-02 with the Pirates, the team that selected him in the third round of the 1995 MLB first-year player draft. The Florida native posted mediocre results with the Bucs and was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox in 2003. He didn’t throw extensively for Boston until 2004, when his inning-eating abilities assisted in the Sox’ first championship since in 86 years.
Since 2005, Arroyo has tossed at least 200 innings in every season but one – he was on the mound for exactly 199 in 2011. His past two seasons were almost identical, as he threw 202 frames in 32 starts in each of them, with his ERA slightly rising from 3.74 to 3.79 during that span.
Arroyo has always been a control pitcher, as his fastball was never a plus pitch and now lingers somewhere in the mid 80s. He cuts and moves the ball around the plate, and uses a slow curve to keep hitters off balance. While his strikeout rate hasn’t risen above 6.0 per nine innings since 2008, his walk rate has been below 2.0 the last two years and under 3.0 for the previous five.
There are two main issues with Arroyo: his age and his ground-ball rate, which was a career-best 44.4 percent last year, but would’ve ranked him behind 2013 Pirates rotation members Charlie Morton (62.9), A.J. Burnett (56.5), Jeff Locke (53.2) and Gerrit Cole (49.1). For a team that relied on heavy shifting to field more balls in play, Arroyo may need to adjust his repertoire to fit in Pittsburgh.
The Arroyo news may indicate where the Pirates are with regards to Burnett. As general manager Neal Huntington told the Post-Gazette‘s Ron Cook, the team is running out of time to wait for Burnett to make a decision on retirement.
Arroyo is reportedly seeking at least a two-year deal. CBSSports.com has projected that Arroyo will receive a three-year contract worth between $30 million and $36 million. He made almost $16.5 million last year with the Reds while contributing 2.5 wins above replacement.