The Cincinnati Reds were good enough heading into the 2014 season that they could afford to let starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo walk out the door unfettered after eight years to sign a a two-year, $23.5-million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Maybe the Wild Card Reds had the better chance of improving upon their 2013 season than the D-Backs did after their second-place NL West finish, but both had legitimately high hopes.
Not now. With the Reds battling through a rash of injuries to arrive at the All-Star break just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central, the second half of the season did look bright before a total collapse on offense in the absence of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. Those injuries left the Reds stuck in seemingly insurmountable mire with just a barely perceptible postseason pulse and now a .500 record.
The D-Backs’ plight began much earlier when a 9-22 start to the season left them with a long, long string to play out.
The current series between the Reds and D-Backs might not have been slated as a must-see, marquee matchup between two division contenders at the start of the season, but there was certainly more to expect than the morbid curiosity of watching two teams in the midst of disastrous seasons.
And an Arroyo homecoming for the series now unfolding in Cincinnati would have gotten a lot of play in Reds Country if the rubber-armed innings-eater hadn’t suddenly turned mortal as a member of the D-Backs and found himself requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery.
But instead, the Reds vs. D-Backs is now more of a showcase for the non-waiver trade deadline on Thursday, and the postseason roster acquisition deadline at the end of August. And for those players who will remain with their respective teams throughout the rest of this season, it’s just another ongoing audition to win or keep a starting spot next year and perhaps earn more money.