The Arizona Diamondbacks recently signed free agent starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo to a two year, $23.5 million contract with a club option for a third year. Arroyo might not have the numbers of an ace, but he does provide depth to the team’s starting rotation, which struggled throughout the 2013 MLB season.
Arroyo is a 14-year veteran who spent his last eight seasons with the Cincinatti Reds. In 2013, he posted solid numbers, pitching more than 200 innings in 32 starts and going 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA. He struck out 124 batters while walking only 34, and his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) was only 1.15 overall.
Starting pitching for the Diamondbacks in 2013 left much to be desired, as the team went only 81-81 (identical to their record in 2012) and failed to reach the playoffs for the second straight season. Of all the returning starters, only Patrick Corbin posted a winning record last season. The depth that Arroyo offers should place other returning starters on notice that retaining their spot in the rotation this upcoming season is no guarantee; they must earn it. At this point, Arroyo, Corbin and Wade Miley are the only real “locks” for the starting rotation, leaving four pitchers competing to fill the remaining two spots — Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, Randall Delgado and Archie Bradley.
One rationale for signing Arroyo was that the Diamondbacks wouldn’t need to thrust Bradley into the rotation before he’s ready. The 21-year-old Bradley, an Oklahoma native, is deemed one of the league’s top pitching prospects and the Diamondbacks plucked him straight out of high school as the seventh pick overall in the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft. He spent most of last season with the team’s AA affiliate in Mobile, AL. Bradley produced highly impressive numbers in Mobile, going 12-5 with a 1.97 ERA.
Despite his lack of big league playing experience, he could very well still earn a spot in the rotation if he turns in a stellar Spring Training performance. Manager Kirk Gibson, along with new pitching coach Dave Duncan, both know that starting pitching was a weakness for the team last season, and neither will hesitate to opt for Bradley over other returning starters if Bradley demonstrates he’s ready, especially if there is no visible improvement from others who finished last season with disappointing numbers.
As for Arroyo, the Diamondbacks will no doubt benefit from a solid veteran starter who still consistently turns in over 200 innings per season, all the while possessing an ERA under four and an above .500 record. Also, the club option in Arroyo’s contract for a third year means that the team won’t be stuck with him if he fails to perform as well as expected.
The Diamondbacks desperately needed another solid arm in the rotation for 2014, and Arroyo might very well be the answer.