Item: During the 2012-13 off-season, the Chicago Cubs signed free agent starting pitcher Scott Feldman to a one-year, $6 million contract. Feldman pitched well for the Cubs in early 2013. In 15 starts his ERA was 3.46 and FIP was 3.93. On July 2, the Cubs traded Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles. They turned three months of Scott Feldman into 4.5 years of Jake Arrieta (yes, that Jake Arrieta) and 4.5 years of bullpen stud Pedro Strop.

Item: During the 2013-14 off-season, the Cubs signed free agent starting pitcher Jason Hammel to a one-year, $6 million contract. Hammel pitched well for the Cubs in early 2014. In 17 starts his ERA was 2.98 and his FIP was 3.19. On July 5, the Cubs traded Hammel to Oakland in a deal that returned Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Dan Straily from the A’s. Jeff Samardzija was a more important part of the Cubs outgoing package. But Hammel was no slouch. 1.5 years of Samardzija and half a year of Hammel brought the Cubs 6 years of Russell, the #3 prospect in baseball; six years of McKinney, the #2 prospect in the Cubs system now; and Straily, a pitcher who became part of the trade to the Astros for Dexter Fowler.

Signing players to one-year deals and flipping them at mid-season is a proven rebuilding tactic for the Cubs. Let’s call it the Epstein Flip. Pulling it off takes on-target scouting and accurate analytics. The team has to be in a particular situation – in a rebuilding phase and have to have the money to track down a quality pitcher on the free agent market who is looking for a one-year deal. The Feldman and Hammel acquisitions were deliberate sign-to-trade moves by the Cubs.

The Cincinnati Reds enter the 2015-16 off-season in perfect position to execute an Epstein Flip.

The Reds need an extra starting pitcher to begin the season. Homer Bailey will miss the first month. From last year’s staff, only Anthony DeSclafani (184 IP) can pitch the entire season. The rest – Raisel Iglesias (124 IP), John Lamb (160 IP), Michael Lorenzen (156 IP), Keyvius Sampson (135 IP), Brandon Finnegan (105 IP) and Robert Stephenson (134 IP) – will face innings limits of varying severity. Yes, the Reds could divide up the season and get by with only these names. But prudence suggests adding another arm to the mix, one that could cover the available innings the first half of the year.

The Reds could neatly fuse the innings-eater common sense with the opportunism of the Epstein Flip. The club could and should comb the free agent pool for pitchers where the market dictates a one-year deal and choose a good one. Let him pitch for half the season while Bailey gets back in the groove and the young arms sort themselves out. Then trade the new starter at the deadline, like Feldman and Hammel.

The Reds should have enough payroll to avoid curb shopping this off-season if they can figure out a couple of the trades that have been rumored. Keep in mind they’ll only be paying half a year’s salary to this starting pitcher. A $6 million man traded at the deadline only costs $3 million.

But not just any starter will do. He has to project to pitch well in the first half to build his value. That bar isn’t super high. Scott Feldman and Jason Hammel weren’t Clayton Kershaw. But Jason Marquis and his type won’t cut it, as we saw last year.

That brings us to Bronson Anthony Arroyo.

Bronson Arroyo will be 38 on Opening Day, all parts of him other than one ligament as old as Saturn. Bill Clinton was President when Arroyo began his major league career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The tall, durable right-hander pitched a full season (32 starts, 202 innings) for the Reds in 2013. He signed a 2-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but after 14 appearances, the guy who hadn’t missed a start since puberty, suffered a torn UCL and underwent Tommy John surgery in mid-2014. Since then, he’s been traded to Atlanta and then the Dodgers. That involved a bunch of contract dumping, but no pitching. The Dodgers just paid Arroyo a $4.5 million buyout for the 2016 season to avoid ponying up an $11 million option.

Bronson Arroyo, always a free spirit, is now a free agent.

Yesterday, John Fay spotted Arroyo having lunch across the street from GABP. We now know the pitcher was in town talking to the Reds about making a return. The Reds, wisely, aren’t jumping in to anything. They want to make sure Arroyo is healthy before contract talks move too far. Arroyo is headed back to his home in Florida, expecting a normal off-season throwing. If Arroyo can prove he’s recovered, it sounds like there is strong mutual interest.

That raises the question: Is Bronson Arroyo an option for the Epstein Flip?

Well, he sure wouldn’t cost $6 million. His contract will be for one year comprised mostly of incentives based on innings pitched.

Arroyo hasn’t pitched since mid-2014 – a layoff nearly a year longer than Bailey’s. It’s possible that his recovery from surgery will be slow and gradual, meaning he isn’t a strong candidate for a fast-starting innings consumer. But given the way Bronson Arroyo pitches, it wouldn’t be surprising if he was ready in April and able to throw a complete season. With a new elbow ligament and time to rest up, Arroyo might well be in a great position for a deadline trade.

That’s where the real risk arises. Can the Reds avoid falling in love with a returned-to-form Bronson Arroyo?

Arroyo could take care of the innings the Reds need covered. But the arrangement has to be temporary. Nothing is more important to the Reds rebuilding this year than developing their young starting pitchers. If Bronson Arroyo ends up starting 30+ games for the Reds, it’s a problem. Barring a significant trade that brings in another pitcher, by mid season the Reds need their rotation to be comprised of Bailey, DeSclafani, Iglesias and the most promising young guys.

If the Reds sign on, Arroyo’s return will be sold to fans as providing a wise mentor for the young pitchers. In fact, that pitch has already begun. “Price thinks I could help the clubhouse,” Arroyo said to Fay. But the Reds can’t let that become an argument for keeping him around all year. Arroyo can demonstrate work ethic and teach the kids a few tricks over five months (Feb-July).

In a way, resigning Bronson Arroyo is such a Reds inside move – the comfort of familiarity. With Walt Jocketty’s players from St. Louis mostly retired, bringing back former Reds is next generation in-group bias.

That said, Arroyo’s return would go over well here. He’s uber-popular with the beat writers because Arroyo speaks to them sans cliché. Reds fans would love to see #61 back on the GABP mound, befuddling hitters while wearing a Cincinnati uniform. If Arroyo proves healthy over the next couple months, the Reds should give his well worn tires a kick. After conducting a broad search of the free agent pool, it may turn out that Bronson Arroyo is the best guy for the job.

But the club only has one shot at the Epstein Flip. There’s no sensible room for adding two veteran pitchers to the rotation and keeping one all season. In an off-season that promises infamy for shipping off a bunch of popular players, bringing a fan favorite back will present a great public relations temptation. If the organization doesn’t have the stomach to trade Arroyo in July, they’ll miss a valuable sign-to-trade opportunity.

Given that significant opportunity cost, the Reds have to resist nostalgia.  Avoiding sentimental attachment hasn’t been one of the organization’s strongest qualities. The club needs a Jason Hammel not a Jason Marquis.

99 Responses

  1. Herman Bates

    If you’re going to spend money on a starter, why not go Doug Fister? True, he may want to contend this year, but signing with the Reds doesn’t preclude that. It gives Fister guaranteed innings early in the year, and as a groundball pitcher, he won’t suffer in GABP. It gives him a chance to rebuild his brand, and then get flipped to a contender in July. For the Reds, it’s a one year commitment at most. Signing Bronson doesn’t present much upside; Fister doesn’t present much downside. I’d prefer Fister. IF he’s willing to take a show-me year in Cincy.

    • RFM

      Every team that wants a buy-low starter is going to be looking at Doug Fister or a few other names. The only reason for Fister to join a team that just lost 98 games and pitch in GABP is if the Reds drastically outbid other teams. The Reds just aren’t an appealing destination for free agent pitchers, which has to be taken into account when considering their options of luring one.

  2. Grant Freking

    Another alternative. Bring in a Arroyo on a veteran’s minimum deal (or something near that) plus a few incentives. But, also bring in a Hammel-type to serve as the more reasonable Epstein Flip candidate. Have Arroyo be the No. 5 starter/long man/fill-in guy out of the bullpen. Make it clear the young guys have priority over him on starts before their innings need to be pared down.

    I don’t think Arroyo — who won’t be able to come in and throw 200 innings anyway given that he’s coming off TJ — would mind that. Speculation: I think Arroyo just wants to be a part of a team again and have the day-to-day familiarity of being in the clubhouse after sitting for so long. He’s got his ring and his wins, and just wants to be content. Cincy loves him, and he loves Cincy.

    If the Reds actually follow through and trade Frazier, Bruce, Phillips, and Chapman (and possibly more), I doubt they’ll think twice about trading Arroyo if by some small chance the by-then-39-year-old recovers and is somewhere around league average. (I don’t see it. The track record of pitchers of Arroyo’s age coming back and being anywhere close to effective is virtually nil.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I like the idea of Arroyo being primarily a long reliever out of the bullpen. I’m not sure the irregular throwing schedule would be great for his arm. But you’re probably right that he may just be looking for a job of any kind.

      • gaffer

        There is no “veteran minimum” only the actual minimum of around 500,000. I bet he would take a base of 1.5 mil with 3 mill in incentives for 120 innings, 150 and 180 innings.

      • ohiojimw

        Arroyo as the long man was the theory I was going to put forward if it hadn’t been floated already.

        The young staff will need a mentor almost as much as they need experience because a mentor will point out the lessons to be learned from the experiences and show them the way forward.

  3. Dan

    I like it because I think Arroyo will be terrible on the mound and will ensure that the Reds have another year with a top 5 pick for 2017. No other reason. No stat value to mentor ship and I’m sure sabermetrics will back that up. So it is a win to lose mentality. We make the fans happy be resigning a grissled veteran who is also a fan favorite and we get someone who when healthy throws an 85 mph fastball.

    • jessecuster44

      … You like it because he will make the Reds worse. WhAAAAAt?

      All this talk of actively hoping for the Reds to tank really rankles me. The object is to win. I might be d-e-a-d by 2018 or 2020, or 2028… whenever the “rebuilding” project is completed.

      No one expects the Reds to win a division title next year, but to just give up on the season before it starts, and hope that whatever “prospects” we receive ( IF we actually trade Chappy, Bruce, Frazier et al) will pan out in a few years…

      It makes me apathetic. I mean, if the Reds aren’t interested in winning in the short term, why should I be interested in them? Better things to do with my time. Not interested to go back to the 2000s, and the endless cycle of horrible.

      I think the Reds can improve the team for the long term without “punting” the next few seasons.

      But if you think that a high draft pick in 2017 will help the Reds… more power to you.

      • jdx19

        I agree actively hoping the Reds are bad is counter-productive, but being realistic is necessary to run a successful franchise.

        It very, very rarely makes sense to maximize current value at the expense of future value in baseball. Those rare times are when you believe you can make a run at the WS, such as a position the Reds were in during the 2013 season when WJ did nothing at the deadline and the Reds missed the playoffs with Johnny on the mound in PIT.

        So, doing whatever you can in 2016 (a season during which you won’t compete) to increase your odds in 2017 and later is very prudent.

        Its your money, and if you choose to not support the Reds because they don’t go for broke every year, that is your prerogative. But fans who are in it for the long-run with the team should be happy at this direction.

      • jessecuster44

        I think that there is a large difference between going for broke and being competitive.

        If the Reds decide to tank 2016, trading most of their vets for “prospects” (look up the definition),that guarantees absolutely nothing for 2017 and beyond.

        For every story of a Cubs and Astros rebuild which didn’t seem to take so long, there’s a story of a Marlins or Mariners effort that hasn’t panned out.

        So many seem to think that the Reds “Won’t compete” in 2016. Because Cubs. Because Cardinals. Because Pirates. Why not just forfeit every game against those teams and make it even easier?

        I think that the Reds have enough MLB talent to be prudent about the moves they make – so much so that if things go well, they can make a run at the 2nd WC in 2016. It’s unlikely, but better in my eyes than GIVING UP, and giving the finger to the fans (again).Does that mean going for broke? No. But neither does it mean TANKING – which apparently some feel this franchise ought to do. Yay! Let’s lose and hope for maybe!

        With this current management – do you feel that jettisoning MLB talent for unproven talent is a good idea? … I don’t.

        Sorry, not interested in another 90 loss season – but this time without Frazier, Bruce, Chapman, Votto, etc. Count me out of that.

        Again – there is no guarantee that whatever “rebuild” happens will be successful. I’d rather stay on the edge of things, and retool without burning the entire thing down.

        What’s the point of going to GABP next year to see an iteration of the 1982-83 Reds?

        Maybe my thinking changes when trades start to happen and the talent that comes back to us is tangible and exciting, but there’s a reason that Chappy hasn’t been traded yet, and it’s not because he doesn’t command good talent in return. It’s because mgmt is holding out for something unrealistic to jumpstart a Cubs/Astros effort. THAT sort of management is not who should be “rebuilding” anything.

        Sign Dexter Fowler. Sign Arroyo. Trade Chappy for a bat. Grab some serviceable bullpen arms. Stick to a plan of developing young pitching, but don’t tear something down just for the sake of doing it, and root for losing.

      • [email protected]

        I agree Jesse,

        Sign fowler, sign Bronson and let’s let it rip.

        Want some innings early in the year, let Chapman throw 1-3. I am even ok if they do not trade him. I think they have over valued him.

        So we add a few pieces like Fowler, and get our wounded warriors back, I am ok to play these.

        I wager that Jay Bruce is healthy and has a monster year and Meso has to be champin at that bit

      • Dan

        The 2015 team was terrible. Shamefully terrible. Many of the players played like they quit after the all star break. Using Mesoraco and Bailey out as our excuse for stinking up the league is zero excuse. Maybe at best those 2 would have attributed 10 more wins to the Reds. Unless the Reds can achieve a high stink factor for 1 more year we’ll be dead in the water. If you look to the talent depth of Pittsburge, Chicago, and St. Louis we are need of tanking for 3 or 4 years. Let their farm system slump while our excels and then we’ll have another 4 or 5 years of grand success.

      • TR

        jessecuster44: As a Reds fan since the mid 1940’s, you mirror a lot of my sentiments. I hope the Jocketty/Williams team is not writing off the 2016 season and is only looking down the road to 2017-18 and beyond.

    • jack

      Thank you. Signing Arroyo is the dumbest thing I have ever read. What is up with this man crush for Arroyo? God we sign Marquis and everybody flips out. Now you all want Arroyo. Just let the kids pitch and get some innings in for crying out loud.

  4. Swayne1

    There is another option, albeit an option that involves moving another one of my favorite players. The Reds sign Arroyo to be a full year innings-eater as he nears retirement and, if Bailey returns to form from May-July, Bailey is the pitcher that you move at the deadline. Bailey has much more value in any deadline deal (assuming he returns to 2014 form) than Arroyo, even if Arroyo is performing at a career-best ERA/FIP level. Moreover, if all goes well, they could move both of them and land a package similar to Samardzija/Hammel.

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      Bailey is going to be owed a lot more money over a longer period of time than Arroyo. Even if Bailey does come back early in the season, a couple months isn’t going to be enough time to build his value after the surgery he just had.

    • Westwoodian

      Bailey’s contract basically makes him untradeable at this time.

  5. sultanofswaff

    I’m a fan of signing Arroyo in the abstract, but my main concern is the opportunity cost of blocking younger and better players. As a veteran on a one year incentive laden deal with no guarantees of a rotation spot, I could get on board, but how would it work in practice? I suppose the optimal use would be that he could cover Homer’s early season starts and then provide capable long relief with the occasional spot start to one of our young guys who may need a blow. What I don’t want to see is him in the rotation all season putzing along with a high ERA. I would much rather see the Reds draw from the pool of prospects to cover those innings. With so many to choose from it could be done, but this sort of out-of-the-box thinking is not what the Reds do.

    • Ryan Lykins (@ryan_lykins)

      I agree with this. I feel like the nostalgia of him pitching in the rotation would be enough to keep him there regardless of how he pitches.

    • Matt WI

      If it came down to watching Sampson pitch or Arroyo… I’m going with BA all day. If it’s anybody else, then, I think it’s a fair consideration. But the first half starter, second half spot starter idea makes a lot of sense… unless he pitches well enough to be flipped, as Steve presents.

    • Hotto4Votto

      I like the idea of bringing back Arroyo, if he’s healthy and ready to go in ST. The Reds will have to have someone step in and be ready to start in April. Right now, we can write down Disco and Iglesias for sure. I believe John Lamb has the next best shot at grabbing a spot based on the end of last year. Being LH and posting really good K numbers certainly helps his case.

      Then beyond that, there’s Moscot (returning from injury), Sampson (struggled mightily) Lorenzen (could use some seasoning in AAA), Finnegan (could use more time as a starter), and Stephenson (do we want to start his service time clock?) as the primary guys battling for a spot.

      Allowing most of those guys to continue to develop in AAA is better for the Reds future. Bringing in someone like Arroyo helps that process sort itself out.

      • ohiojimw

        Lamb is also out of options, I believe. That pretty much means he is a lock to make the Reds or be flipped himself NLT the end of ST

  6. droomac

    Arrroyo would be ok as a spot starter, a placeholder for Bailey, and/or a long man. He’s probably not going to be worth much at the deadline, though, and that’s fine. His value is, in my estimation, in setting an example concerning preparation and professionalism for the younger pitchers.

    Where I want the club to do an “Epstein flip” is in the outfield. I would love to see them trade Bruce and sign a couple of outfielders with some skills that may be in demand at the deadline to one year deals. Nori Aoki and Austin Jackson would fit the bill. Cincinnati would be an attractive place for both because of playing time and the ballpark. Both provide positional flexibility and Price would still be able to work Duvall into the lineup quite a bit (let’s see what the guy has with a larger sample size of ABs in the show).

    • WVRedlegs

      “I got me some cold cuts, ladies. Woooo.”

    • ed koverman

      i also like de aza for that kimd of move

  7. lost11found

    Bronson may be a good candidate for this sort of roster move. He would be likely to pitch a full season with no innings limits. He himself may want to to try and get another ring and a couple more seasons of solid paydays.

    With all the talk in Aug/Sept of Harvey being limited to a couple of starts in the playoffs, it certainly didn’t pan out that way and he had much more to lose from a career earnings standpoint.

  8. WVRedlegs

    Call me a sentimental softie, but I’d like to see Bronson Arroyo stay all year long, even if that meant a move to the bullpen. But I do like the Epstein Flip idea still and would go against your grain and sign 1 free agent pitcher in addition to BA.
    There are several names to look through, but you are correct when you say scouting will be extremely important to weed out which one you select.
    The one I like is the one that you could take away from Epstein right out from under his nose. That is Trevor Cahill. He pitched very well out of the bullpen in September for the Cubs and really came on after he came off the DL. He is only 27, and has pitched in the ML’s since 2007. Aside from performance, I think the age part will be an important piece to this equation to help maximize return.
    Mike Pelphrey of the Twins might help.
    And Tim Lincecum might be an interesting one too. But I think Cahill is the very good option for this type of Epstein Flip scenario.

  9. tct

    Some other options; Tim Lincecum, Mike Pelfrey, Bud Norris, Brandon Morrow, Doug Fister

    Guys to keep an eye on and make a run at if their market isn’t as strong as was thought to be; Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy( who may get a below market deal because of draft pick compensation)

    Old guys who would probably be better than Arroyo; Bartolo Colon, Mark Buerhle, Cliff Lee

    Former Reds who would be better than Arroyo; Mat Latos, Alfredo Simon

    Yeah, Latos isn’t happening. But I would rather see the Reds make a run at any of these guys over Bronson.

  10. Shchi Cossack

    Disco and Iglesias are the only locks for the 2016 opening day starting rotation. Disco will have no limitation on his innings pitched in 2016, but Iglesias will again be limited in 2015. There are plenty of options available to fill the remaining 3 starting rotation slots on opening day, but let’s consider the 40-man roster and service time (something WJ has little inclination to consider). The Reds have little to no chance of competing in the 2016 season and Bailey may return prior to June 1st, but certainly not by opening day.

    BA represents a good, cheap option for the Reds starting rotation with little risk and moderate upside potential as the opportunity cost Steve outlined, if BA is healthy. With so little risk and BA wanting to return to the Reds, there really isn’t any reason avoid signing BA if he is healthy. That would leave 2 open slots in the opening day starting rotation. The issue then becomes how much risk can the Reds stomach in 2016 and how much do they want to maximize the opportunity cost Steve describes. All the remaining young starting candidates still need to pitch and stretch out their innings, but that can be done at AAA without churning their service time. Why should the Reds wind up their service time by stretching them out at the major league level during a season with little hope for success?

    What if the Reds decide to maximize future potential by adding some monetary risk in 2016? There are 2 realistic bounce-back FA starters available looking to reestablish their value in 2016, Fister and Latos, but each could cost a guaranteed $10MM+ for 2016. That’s not chump change, but it’s certainly not a bank-breaking amount either. What if the Reds sign both Fister and Latos along with Arroyo? The contracts the Reds are looking to move this offseason would offset the 3 FA pitching contracts the Reds would be adding. With assurances they either would be traded during the season if they are producing similar performances to prior seasons (2015 excepted) or the Reds would not extend a QO after the 2016 season, the incentive for the pitchers to sign with Cincinnati could be enticing. The Reds would then have 3 chips (Arroyo, Fister and Latos) available to hopefully cash in during the season and it really doesn’t matter how early in the season they are traded if any of them come out of the gate strong. Bailey will become available by mid-season and there are plenty of options available to move into the starting rotation if any of the 3 FA contracts are traded.

    Of course none of this type approach would be viable with WJ calling the shots, but what if Dick Williams…?

    • Matt

      0% chance Latos ever comes back to Cincinnati. That bridge is burned, stomped on, and rebuilt from the ashes for the sole purpose of being torched all over again.

    • reaganspad

      I like this approach you old Cossack you.

      Maybe the best cure for Mat Latos is to be reunited with Bryan Price. That may have interest to him. It was interesting that we did not hear about the bad Mat when Bronson was with the team. I think that would be key in having Mat back, and heck I want Bronson anyway.

      OK with Fister too. Great idea. For 20 Mil, we have a pitching staff again and can make a run at 2016.

      I do not see trade value in Arroyo, and would be content with him for the year or longer. If he is on, great. If he struggles, who would he bump? Contraras?

      Go for it. I had Steve penciled in for GM, but I may be changing my vote to you…

      Hey, the way I see it, until Walt is gone the job is in audition stage

  11. Matt

    I like the idea of Arroyo being a Red again, and the biggest reason is that I really do think he would be a great teaching influence on the young pitchers – I’ve thought that before these rumors came up and I was glad to see that it’s being discussed.

    A lot of these young pitchers have the stuff and the tools, but learning how to actually use them and pitch intelligently is something that takes time, and I see Bronson as a great mentor, being that he’s had such a great career based solely on durability and smarts, and not relying on great stuff.

    If we can execute an Epstein Flip, then all the better.

  12. i71_Exile

    I love Bronson, but he’s this year’s Jason Marquis. There’s nothing there to flip. If the Reds want him for the clubhouse, then hire him as a coach/mentor.

    • ohiojimw

      To be an effective mentor, a person has to be in the line of fire at least from time to time. That is why I think they should bring BA back as the long man. Additionally, as noted above, this avoids risking/ wasting the arms and service time of prospects in that role.

    • Jeremy Conley

      I guess if you’d never looked at either pitcher’s career statistics, this comment would make more sense.

      • i71_Exile

        Washed up is washed up. Willie Mays at 42 is just as bad as Drew Stubbs at 30.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Except that you’re just imagining that he’s washed up. Look at some actual facts. The guy pitched well for the Reds in 2013, went the Dbacks and pitched fine for them until he got hurt (7-4, 4.08 ERA. 4.32 FIP). Then he had surgery and hasn’t pitched since.

        Saying he’s washed up would be like saying Bailey is washed up because they have been out for the same reasons.

      • i71_Exile

        We are both imagining: you imagine that a 38-year old Bronson Arroyo coming off Tommy John surgery has some bounce left in his rubber arm and I imagine that he’s done as an effective major league pitcher. That’s it. Time will tell who’s imagination is a better predictor of reality.

        How are your facts from 2013/14 relevant in 2016? We don’t know whether Bronson’s “fine” 4.32 FIP in 2014 was due to injury or age. We do know that league average FIP in 2014 was 3.74. So 4.32 would be considered firmly in the below average to poor categories.

        Bronson himself has said that his fastball has to hit 90 for his junk to be effective. I think those days are done. If the Reds believe that TJ surgery has turned back the clock on Bronson’s fastball, then sure, sign him as a fill-in starter until Bailey is ready or as a long man to mentor the young guys and flip him if you catch lightning in a bottle. It’s not like the Reds are expecting to compete next year.

        Bronson is not washed up because of TJ surgery. He’s washed up because he’s 38 and can’t keep major league hitters from sitting on his junk and fighting off his 87 MPH fastball. That’s my opinion until I hear reports of him throwing and hitting 90.

        Bailey should be just fine because he’s much younger.

      • Jeremy Conley

        Please post a link to the article where Arroyo says his fastball has to hit 90 to be effective.

        You say he’s washed up. The fact that you use to support that is that he’s 38. That’s not enough for me to go on, since he was still effective a year ago. I do think he’d probably be a below average pitcher right now, but pretty much all of the Reds rotation was average or below, so that’s not really a stopping point for me.

  13. larry papania

    Steve, your comment about flipping B A at the July deadline was either a joke or to elicit comments.. I don’t think, at age 39, the reds would be able to flip him for flapjacks. However, if Bronson can throw his fastball at 87 or 88mph, I think we should sign him (I think B A himself said a couple of years ago that his fastball needs to be 87mph to set up his other pitches). I’d like him to try to finish Bailey’s starts, as I doubt can pitch more than five innings until the latter part of the season. However I love B A’s work ethic, his enthusiasm and his personality. I’d like to see him finish his career as a red this year.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Arroyo will be 38 not 39. If Arroyo can pitch for the Reds, he can pitch for a contender. If a contender sees him as a viable #3 or #4 pitcher, he’d be worth something. That said, I think other pitchers – including some who have been mentioned in this thread – would be more likely to work as a trade chip. Who knows how Bronson will pitch?

    • WVRedlegs

      Bronson Arroyo has gone away from throwing a “fastball” and has used other pitches. His repertoire consists mainly of a sinker, slider, curveball, and a change-up. In ’12 he threw a fastball on 8.4% while using the sinker 32.5%, in ’13 it was FB 1.7% and sinker 40.8%, and in ’14 it was FB 2.4% and sinker 42.5%. And his fly ball rate has decreased also. His “new” sinker will be all the more welcome in GABP.

      • larry papania

        Out of curiosity, where would I find fastball velocity? I researched mlb & B A . I found cfip, whip, warp et al, but not velocity. What am I doing wrong?

      • WVRedlegs

        If you cannot get into Fangraphs because of membership, then just google “Bronson Arroyo stats on Fangraphs” and the first choice that comes up on the list usually is that player’s stat page. Just page down. Then in the text box at the top you can put other players names in and it will take you to their page also, all for free.

  14. kurtis witters (@kurtonthecob)

    Call me sentimental, but I would just love to see the high-kicker back on the mound at GABP, and with little incentive to actually watch the reds (much less buy tickets) in 2016, I think this would be a good move to appease the fanbase. There is little downside to bringing him to a club that lost 98 games last year and will have plenty of innings to give. Just sign him and give people a reason to be happy after we had to watch our product win a World Series with another small market club and after we will have to watch some other home grown players walk out (Frazier, Bruce, Chappy, maybe Cozy).

  15. Jeremy Conley

    I’m with Kurtis above. It seems a little to cold and calculating to just call signing Bronson a PR move. I think he would make the team better and more fun for the fans, i.e. make the team a better product. That’s different than PR.

    That said, I disagree with this statement from the article: “But the club only has one shot at the Epstein Flip. There’s no sensible room for adding two veteran pitchers to the rotation and keeping one all season.”

    Every team should go into the year expecting to have at least 7 pitchers make starts. If it turns out to be less, that’s a fine problem to deal with. Last year the Reds had 14 pitchers make starts. To say that If the Reds had Iglesias, Disco, Arroyo, and .5 of Bailey, they would have no more room for other pitchers doesn’t make sense to me. They’d need at least 3 or 4 more guys, and as many as 10.

    Some of the guys like Stephenson aren’t even going to be ready to come up until mid-season anyway, and why start their service clocks if they aren’t absolutely ready? So those guys can come and take the place of anyone dealt at mid-season.

    • ohiojimw

      Good points. I also do not see this as a one off zero sum game for many of the reasons and possibilities cited in multiple comments.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Decent free agent pitchers aren’t going to sign without the assurance they’ll make the rotation. As I said in the post, nothing is more important to next year than developing the young pitching. The rotation should start in April with DeSclafani, Iglesias, Esptein Flip and two young arms. When Bailey gets back, that goes to him, DeSclafani, Iglesias, Epstein flip and one young arm. Yes, there will be injuries, but the replacement arms are young ones. If the Reds have no young pitchers starting after Bailey gets back it would be mismanagement.

      No way the Reds will or should sign Arroyo as a starter for the year plus another veteran for half a year. That’s just not enough development for the young staff.

      • Jeremy Conley

        I think the Reds are going to be able to find plenty of innings for everyone, even if they brought in Arroyo and another guy for half a year. There’s no guarantee that Arroyo will make it the whole year anyway.

        Who are the young arms that you want to get MLB innings for next year?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Lamb, Lorenzen, Finnegan, Sampson, Cingrani, Stephenson, Moscot.

      • ohiojimw

        Arroyo as a mentor would be worth more to the Reds than Cingrani in any capacity.

  16. Aaron Bradley

    This team needs one or two outfielders and one or two relievers, they can’t afford to pay for a starting pitcher who will have a 4+ ERA when they have a plethora of young arms to choose from. All Bronson does is block a younger arm. We don’t need to sign a guy to be a long reliever / emergency starter that is absurd. I am as sentimental as the next guy but Bronson is old and coming back from major arm surgery.

  17. Redgoggles

    I love Bronson, but I would like to present Skip Shumaker as an example of overvaluing intangibles as a reason for signing. If they sign him, it better be a good deal for the team. I’m so sick of the Reds giving out 2 year deals to mediocre, aging players. To lose 100 games with a bunch of youth developing is one thing. To lose 100 games with a bunch of old players means something completely different.

    • Matt WI

      I don’t know… I think Arroyo as a pitching mentor and someone that has a unique way of thinking about things can be very beneficial for a very, very, young pitching staff. I think that’s very different than the Skip Shumaker signing. Skip was hired to produce first and foremost, and the intangible stuff was a wash. But it is also more impactful to have a guy that spent many good years come in like Bronson vs. an outsider like Skip. Which one has a better chance at influence? Basically, if nothing else, Bronson is worth listening too more than Skip ever was. He has a natural respect level. It’s worth trying.

      And, I think the Reds are going to lose and plan to lose a lot of games regardless of the roster this year, so if Bronson brings the future along just a tiny bit faster, that’s the right outcome to look for. Not the team competing for a title with him.

      • TR

        Does anyone think the Reds are going to compete for a title with or without Bronson? Not me, but .500 with five games on either side would not be bad in 2016.

      • streamer88

        What IF (lol, IF) Frazier kills the 1st half again, Mes/Votto all year, JayB gets hot and Desclafani and Iglesias progress and we’re 44-40 at the break? Homer gets going in June and by the deadline we’re 50-42? Sure we’ll probably fade down the stretch and end up with 70-80 wins, but that would sure be fun for 4-5 months, even while rebuilding.

        Note I did not (even in my fantasy) progress BHam’s offensive prowess in any way. Dreams have to be somewhat real or you wake up.

      • reaganspad

        Streamer, I do not think your premise is far fetched.

        Health is important. I would add Arroyo, but do think a Dexter Fowler is more important than another pitcher.

        I do think that Billy should be at AAA this year until he shows that he can hit. Love his defense and his game changing base running, but he has to learn how to hit.

        Mesoraco and Cozart I can see coming back and hitting. Billy need more time at AAA

    • Jeremy Conley

      Same as the Marquis comparison that people have made, look at their actual career numbers and you’ll see that comparing Arroyo and Schumaker makes no sense.

      In the 4 years before signing with the Reds, Skip had put up -.4 WAR. Even in his injury shortened season with Arizona, Arroyo put up .7 WAR, after putting up 6 wins for the Reds in the two seasons before that. Arroyo has a career 103 ERA+ and 27 career WAR. So he’s a slightly above league average starting pitcher, and that’s been worth 27 wins over a replacement level starter in his 14.5 seasons.

      Skip has a 91 career OPS+ (well below average) and has been worth 1.4 WAR over 11 seasons. So you’re comparing a league average starting pitcher to a replacement level utility player.

      Also, Arroyo has things to teach the other starters beyond “character.” He knows how to approach pitching and get people out with below average velocity. If he can teach some of that to our young pitchers with above average velocity, they could be a lot better. What was Skip going to teach? He’s always had a terrible approach at the plate and been a bad defender. All he could pass on was grit and hustle.

      • ohiojimw

        Exactly on Arroyo (or someone) needing to teach these guys how to be MLB starters and to develop and refine their techniques, not to mention how to read batters’ intent, preparation between starts and the like.

        There is even a role in this sense for BA to fill with Bailey as they both come thru the TJ recovery process.

  18. jdx19

    This is unrelated to Bronson, but interesting in a baseball history sense… I just read an article over at THT about the most egregious MVP choices, and apparently one year Cal Ripken had a TEN WAR SEASON and finished 27th in AL MVP voting. I mean… what? A 4th outfielder with 400 PAs finished ahead of Ripken. I know WAR didn’t exist back then, but still… pretty crazy stuff.

      • jdx19

        Yes, I understand that… The voters in 1991 did not have WAR as a statistic. That is what I meant by my statement.

        I clearly stated he had a 10 WAR season, so I’m not sure why you’d conclude I don’t know WAR can be calculated, since I stated the calculation…

      • Jeremy Conley

        I just misread your last sentence. I read it “I didn’t know WAR existed back then” instead of “I know WAR didn’t exist back then.” That’s dyslexia for you.

  19. streamer88

    Sign him quickly. His salary will be low and you never know with TJ surgery. What if Arroyo is selectively whipping 90 mph fastballs and sharp breaking stuff up there come June? A $1.5 million gamble is exactly the types of gambles we should be taking. Heck, call Paul Konerko and see if he’ll take the same thing. Signing him before Spring Training ensures we benefit from the high risk/low reward situation this represents, driving down his negotiating power.

    Also, mentorship cannot be measured by SABR but that doesn’t mean it’s without value. If Arroyo’s presence speeds up the 2ndary pitch development / work ethic of our youth, we’ll never know it – but perhaps we can suspect it.

    Lastly, some of these pitchers need to become relievers, some of them need AAA innings, etc. Plugging Arroyo in every 5th day takes the pressure off the system in regards to rushing folks up to start AND gives our front office some wiggle room to trade some of our excess pitching. In fact, we need two Arroyos IMHO.

    One final side note: I’m bullish on Bailey after his return. I predict his contract will end up being a very nice deal for the Reds by the end.

    • Victor Vollhardt

      To STREAME88:: Your entire 1:28 PM post is right to the point–If just one of the young pitchers (with Arroyo’s help) could grasp the idea that you must pitch with your head as well as your mind Arroyo would be a great investment. Not to be overlooked is how Arroyo keeps his body in shape and his baseball attitude of rolling with the ups and downs of the game without letting it effect his demeanor.

      • Victor Vollhardt

        A typo—-substitute ARM for “mind” in third sentence

  20. chezpayton

    If the rojos get Bronson again I’m gonna need to take a pressure washer to my shorts if you know what I mean

  21. WVRedlegs

    I saw this interesting tweet from Pensacola, “Final day for the Arizona Fall League. Stephen Johnson leads Peoria pitchers with a 0.73 ERA (1er in 12.1ip) and 0.49 WHIP.”
    Stephen Johnson was the pitcher the Reds got in the Marlon Byrd trade with SF. He has 12.1 IP, 2BB, 1 ER, but only 8 K’s in the AFL. After he came over in the trade he pitched in Pensacola with 8.2 IP, 2BB, 0 ER, and 11 K’s. He is 24 years old. And if I remember correctly at the time of the trade, he throws in the high 90’s, but had some control issues. Looks like some of those control issues are working themselves out.
    I hope Doug Gray has some good reviews for us on the AFL Reds players soon.

      • WVRedlegs

        Yeah. He has good stuff there. He is going through nice reviews of his top 10 Reds prospects now. I haven’t been able to read all of them yet, but a majority of them. I haven’t seen much from the AFL yet and how the Reds players have fared this year. And they are already finishing up their season. I hope there is good news for all players.

      • reaganspad

        agreed WV and Jim,

        His site and this one have replaced the enquirer for me and are go to’s each day

        Cheers to both sites, and thanks

  22. seat101

    Steve, isn’t there a clause in the CBA where veterans signed to a MiLB contract have to either be promoted to the majors or dropped immediately by a certain date?

  23. big5ed

    No, no, no.

    They couldn’t get a box of Bisquick for Bronson Arroyo.

    Arroyo’s lifetime Slugging % allowed against lefties is .484; for comparison’s sake, Andrew McCutcheon slugged .488 last year. So, unless you want every LH hitter being the offensive equivalent of Andrew McCutcheon, BA is your man. Plus, he would eat innings that younger guys ought to get.

    40 demerits for this idea. Espousing this puts one in Skip Schumaker grit-country. I’d rather watch Huma Abedin pitch.

  24. Phil Gasson

    I agree 100%. Been a Reds fan since Bell, Post & Coleman. I follow them whether or not they’re in first place or last. They start the new season 0and0 like everybody else.

    • Phil Gasson

      The comment above is for Jesse Custer earlier.

  25. Jeremy Conley

    Right now the Reds rotation would look something like this on opening day, with possible innings in parentheses:

    Desclafani (200)
    Iglesias (150)
    Lamb (170)
    Finnegan (120)
    Lorenzen (150)

    The only guy in the minors that would be pretty much ready to step in would be Stephenson, as the other pitching prospects are a little further away. We have Bailey coming back at some point, and we also have a terrible bullpen, that some of these guys could/should probably help.

    As a reference, we’d like to be able to get between 950 to 1000 innings from starters overall.

    If some moves are made, I could see something like this to open the season:

    Samardizja (110 before trade)
    Iglesias (150)
    Desclafani (200)
    Lamb, Finnegan or Lorenzen (150)
    Arroyo (150)

    With Lorenzen and maybe Finnegan to the pen, depending on how people look in ST. Then trade Samardizja, and swap in Bailey at the top. With Lorenzen and Finnegan in the pen, and Stephenson in the minors, they Reds should be covered for when (not if) injuries happen.

    I guess when I look at this way, it really comes down to whether you believe in Lorenzen as a starter. If you do, then there’s probably not room for a guy like Samardizja and Arroyo. Samardizja would definitely be a way better trade chip at the deadline for the so-called Epstein flip.

    After last season, I’m not very bullish on Lorenzen as a starter so I’d be fine Arroyo and another trade chip, but that’s just me.

    • Michael Smith

      Why only a 10 inning jump for lamb? He did pitch 160 innings last season.

      • ohiojimw

        Agree on Lamb. He pitched a full season as a starter between AAA and MLB. Also while technically it will be his year 25 season, he will be 26 around the AS break. He will be 4 years post TJ surgery. Not much cause to hold him back too much

      • lwblogger2

        I agree with both you and OhioJimW. I don’t see any reason why Lamb couldn’t go 180-190 innings.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Once Bailey comes back, none of Lamb, Finnegan or Lorenzen get starts under this rotation until a pitcher is traded in July. After that, Arroyo makes way too many starts for the good of development.

  26. Chuck Schick

    Removing all sentiment and emotion from the equation,is there a ” smart” team who would sign Arroyo? In theory, would’t a modest financial risk for a player with scores of intangibles be appealing to the Cubs, Cardinals, Giants, Astros? is his overt interest in returning to the Reds a reflection that there is no market for him?

    • Dan

      I think you are on to something. Pretty sure that Bronson doesn’t even know if he can still pitch. Why would any team wanting to stack up on Ws sign him? He wants to retire as a Red which is sweet. Let him do so after the season and then let him immediately retire.

  27. jdx19

    One of the St. Louis writers/voters put Trevor Rosenthal above Joey Votto on his MVP ballot…had Votto 9th.

    How do people like that keep their credentials? What a joke. At least Harper was unanimous…

    • jessecuster44

      One wonders how Walt Jocketty keeps his credentials, after essentially declaring both Kevin Gregg and Jason Marquis one of the 25 most valuable players in the Reds organization at the beginning of 2015.

  28. Playtowin

    Paying $10 million each to Fister and Latos would be lunacy. Arroyo is worth a shot because he is good guy and will come cheap. I will be very surprised if he is effective but given Reds prospects for 2016 it won’t be a big problem if they need to move on to a younger pitcher if he flops. Reds may need to keep Chapman if they don’t get a good offer now and try the Epstein flip with him come next July.

  29. Chuck Schick

    While no reasonable person can argue that Rosenthal is a better player than Votto, Rosenthal was an extremely valuable component for an injury riddled team that won 100 games. Votto’s historic season allowed his team to lose 98 games instead of 103.

    • jdx19

      Rosenthal pitched 68 innings and was worth 2 WAR. That’s not “extremely valuable.”

      You can’t argue in any form that Rosenthal was more valuable than Votto.

  30. CI3J

    I’m onboard with this idea, but add me to the list of people skeptical that The Flip will actually take place. There’s a very real possibility that there will be no takers for Bronson should the Reds try to execute The Flip. For that matter, do we even know that the Reds are planning to exectute The Flip?

    But you know what? That’s ok. If Bronson is still on the team after the trade deadline, put him in the bullpen and let him pitch out the year as a long man/spot starter. Signing Bronson is a low risk gamble with the potential for high reward if they can Flip him for anything come the summer.

    That is, unless the Reds hand out another one of their trademark two year contracts to Bronson. In that case, there’d be nothing I could do except bang my head against the wall.

  31. Chuck Schick

    The Reds are coming off a 98 loss season and have had a losing record 14 of the past 20 years…why would anyone believe that they are smart enough to find value that no one else sees? If Arroyo can still pitch, I would think the Cubs or Cardinals would be able to recognize that and they offer a chance to win immediately and can outspend the Reds if they actually want him.

    The “Epstein Flip” was a smart maneuver by a very smart baseball executive. If it were easy…or even possible….for other executives to pull off…. they would.If I could pick stocks like Warren Buffet then I would be a billionaire. The Reds could’ve made the same moves as Epstein 3 years ago and they didn’t. My guess is they could’ve traded Johnny Cueto to the A’s for Addyson Russell and they didn’t. Due to Marquis and Gregg, should we refer to signing cast offs that need to be released as the “Jocketty Flop”

    If Arroyo has no market and the Reds are the only team interested then it’s highly unlikely that he can still pitch. If there is a market, it’s difficult to believe the Reds could offer the most money….. so if Arroyo did sign here, due to affinity towards the Reds/Cincinnati/Bob C/Price, could they really turn around and trade him 3 months later? ” Bronson, thanks for signing this discounted deal, you’ve pitched well so we’re shipping you off to one of the teams that offered you more money than we did. Bernie has your stuff packed.” It would be a repeat of the Jim Bowden-Jeff Shaw fiasco that made the Reds look sleazy.

    On the flip side…if you sign Arroyo solely because of intangibles and to appease the “past is always better than the future” crowd….what do you do if he sucks? Release “The Mentor”?……DFA the guy you signed to “teach the young guys?” There would be a riot at the Western Bowl if they did that. Ron’s Roost would burn.

    Arroyo had a very good run here….by all accounts, he’s a good guy and seems to have great affinity for the city. Let it go.

  32. CP

    “Ron’s Roost would burn.”

    Well, at least there is a silver lining.

  33. Merkingreds

    What is better getting our young guns developed now or getting more prospects… I would argue that didn’t ba help with Bailey and cueto development, I rather develope our new pitchers than keep on getting prospects and using the shotgun in a barrel approach that we are currently taking with the pitching prospects

  34. WVRedlegs

    You know, Arroyo wasn’t pitching all that bad when he went down for Arizona in 2014. He was 7-4 in 14 games started, a 4.08 ERA with a 3.88 xFIP, with a newfound 53.6% ground ball rate to go with his sinker. He apparently is no longer a big fly ball pitcher. That in itself, along with a new right elbow and a season and a half of rehab behind him now, it is definitely worth a looksy.
    The thing that concerns me with BA would be his third time through the lineup in a game. Five to 6 innnings max should be all that would be expected from BA.
    Now starting out with DeSclafani, Iglesias, two young starters and Arroyo in the rotation, Price will need to have an 8 man bullpen until Bailey gets back, and then maybe even further as Bailey gets stretched out game-wise. Then having an 8 man bullpen takes away one position from the bench. That means the Reds bench should consist of 3 very versatile players and Barnhart. Sorting out the rotation is going to have ramifications on the bullpen and the bench.

  35. WVRedlegs

    Since we went down the road of mentoring with Arroyo, it might be worth some discussion about the Reds hiring Roger Clemens as a minor league instructor. I know, the steroid issue, but if Big Mac can get back into the game as a hitting instructor, maybe its time to take a look. Clemens has done some work with the Astros before.
    The reason I bring it up is that the Reds have 3, and maybe more, Clemens-like pitchers in the organization. Cody Reed is a lefthanded version of a young Roger Clemens. Nick Traveiso and Salvatore Romano are big, hard throwing righthanders who both are about to start at the AA level and both need much more seasoning. Plus, Clemens is a big idol of Traveiso. I think alot could be garnered from such a relationship, if we can get past the steroid issue.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Another pitcher who I suspect wouldn’t mind Clemens on the pitching staff is fellow Texan, Homer Bailey. Clemens texted Bailey after his second no-hitter.

      • reaganspad

        funny, no mention of Stephenson who I think would be the number 1 in that list that might be liking a little Clemens influence

  36. reaganspad

    Here is the reason you sign Bronson:

    DeSclafani was eagerly anticipating a rest at home this winter but was also excited about enhancing the tools at his disposal next season. According to pitch F/x data on Fangraphs, he used his curveball just 23 times this year, but it was a pitch he was trying to develop throughout.
    “I want to bring that back next year and learn how to use it more effectively from outing to outing,” DeSclafani said. “I was talking to Tucker [Barnhart, a Reds catcher], most of the year it was always a pitch I wanted to progress with. We kind of throw it in counts where it wouldn’t hurt us, and I’d try to flip it in there for a strike. It’s been an average Major League curveball.
    “I want to learn how to throw with the curveball now that it can be a strikeout pitch.”

    Bronson could have a huge impact on Disco and I think Lorenzen as well