After reportedly garnering interest from multiple teams early in the offseason, pitcher Bronson Arroyo agreed to a two-year, $23.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. The soon-to-be 37-year old (Feb.24) will step right into a spot in Arizona’s starting rotation, but how should fantasy baseball owners value Arroyo for 2014?
Arroyo’s calling card is durability, as he has made at least 32 starts in nine straight seasons with only one season (2011-199 innings) where he didn’t top 200 innings over that span. If you add 2004 with the Boston Red Sox to the mix, Arroyo has made at least 29 starts and pitched at least 178 innings in 10 straight seasons.
Arroyo is not a strikeout pitcher, with a K/9 rate below 6.0 in five straight seasons, but his BB/9 rate was a career-best last year (1.5) and allowing a BABIP below .300 in all five campaigns has allowed him to defy Father Time and post an ERA below 4.00 in four of those five seasons. Having an above-average defense behind him with the Cincinnati Reds over that stretch has surely helped as well, so the move to Arizona adds a level of uncertainty for the coming season.
Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati and Chase Field in Phoenix are both very hitter-friendly, so the move should not make a dramatic difference for Arroyo. But he has a solid record at Chase Field in six career starts (4-1, 3.20 ERA and a 24:6 K/BB ratio over 39.1 innings), and regular road outings at Petco Park and Dodger Stadium should also benefit him overall.
Arroyo is far from being an elite fantasy starting pitcher, and expecting much more than 10-15 wins and an ERA around 4.00 with ratios that won’t hurt you is unrealistic. The upside here is not great, but if Arroyo’s run of durability continues fantasy owners know what they’ll get and his downside is quelled by the reliability of 30-plus starts.
Arroyo’s signing with Arizona has some other fantasy implications, as Randall Delgado will likely move to the bullpen after starting 19 games for the Diamondbacks in 2013 and top prospect Archie Bradley now looks certain to start the season in Triple-A. Owners in NL-only leagues may have had Delgado on their radar, while Bradley is still a top option in keeper leagues and a potential waiver wire pickup later this year.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.