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  • Should Twins Offer Bronson Arroyo A Third Year?

    In the heat of the chase, it's easy to lose your head. Auctioneers know the trick is to just get people in the door. Once that happens, the investment, the competition, the excitement and above all the urgency, take care of the price all by themselves.

    And free agency is an auction. And Twins fans are feeling the urgency. And so, apparently, are the Twins.

    In his latest story on the Twins offseason, Mike Berardino reports that the Twins have showed a willingness to at least consider offering a 3-year contract to 36-year-old right-hander Bronson Arroyo. If you’re an American League snob like me, you might remember Arroyo from his tumultuous years with the Red Sox through 2005 (or possibly from Bill Simmons' description of the “Bronson Arroyo face”). He left for the National League, specifically Cincinnati, and has averaged 210 innings with a 4.05 ERA in the eight years since.

    It ain’t because of his stuff. For the last five years, he's averaged just 5.3 K/9, which (cheap shot alert) undoubtedly is what makes him irresistible to the Twins. He succeeds by keeping the ball on the ground and indeed his ERA has been closely linked to how many home runs he gives up each year. That bodes well for playing in Target Field, which is far friendlier to pitchers than the Reds’ Great American Ballpark. It doesn’t bode as well for a return to the American League.

    Arroyo and his agent are fishing for a 3-year deal, and the team that offers it is likely to win his services, provided you define “win” as guaranteeing 36+ million dollars to a 37-year-old pitch-to-contact starter. Is that wise?

    Of course not – but free agency rarely is. That’s the thing that can be so repulsive about signing a free agent: by definition the winning team is overpaying. When 29 teams won’t pay the price the winning team is willing to pay, the odds are stacked against them from the start. So let’s ask another question – is Arroyo likely to be productive through his 39year old season?

    Historically, no. First, there is the type: low strikeout pitchers far too often end up like Carlos Silva, Joe Mays or more recently, Scott Diamond. When their stuff dips just a bit, or their control slips a little, or the ground balls turn to fly balls, or the fly balls turn to home runs, things can go south in a hurry. Strikeouts are a safety net they don't have.

    Second, there is just the issue of health. Pitchers get hurt, especially when they've been used a lot. 36-year-olds get hurt too. And 36-year-old pitchers who have been used a lot? You know the answer to that, don’t you Joe Nathan?

    Finally, looking at Arroyo's closest comparable pitchers from baseball-reference.com, you find a lot of guys whose careers ended right about now. His top 5 are John Burkett, Todd Stottlemyre, Tim Belcher, Esteban Loaiza and John Lieber. None of them had success past his age.

    Twins fans know numbers six and seven on that list: Kevin Tapani and Scott Erickson. Tap had a 4.49 ERA when he was 37 and then his career was over. Erickson pitched only 66 more innings over two years after he turned 37, and had a 6.35 ERA. But to be fair, all of these guys showed serious signs of decline well before this point, unlike Arroyo.

    Regardless, Arroyo is not a good bet to age well - but he hasn’t been a good bet to age well for five years running. And the Twins can certainly afford to overpay right now – but they might wish they had that money for a more reliable starter in 2016.

    Ultimately, I can’t believe Arroyo is so much of an outlier from historical precedence. I wouldn’t totally rule out the third year. Perhaps, like Berardino says of the Twins, I might give “indications they might be willing to go that far.” But I think we're getting caught up in the heat of the auction, and there are still lots of items on which to bid. I’d look long and hard at the other pitchers first, opting to pay that 2016 money up front to someone who is a little safer bet.
    This article was originally published in blog: Should Twins Offer Bronson Arroyo A Third Year? started by John Bonnes
    Comments 68 Comments
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Overpaying in money and more importantly years for a mediocre player is a bad idea, the absolute best case scenario is that he earns the contract and nothing more. Most likely the 3rd year bites you in the ass in this case.

      If you are going to over pay, it needs to be for someone who has the ability to not only earn the contract, but exceed it by a pretty decent margin if things break the right way.
    1. bphat1's Avatar
      bphat1 -
      SpiritofVodkaDave, I think that's the case if overpaying ANY player would get them to come to Minnesota, but I guess my argument is that is not the case. I think when the Twins were winning the AL Central most years in the '00's, it was an easier sell. Now it appears we're going to HAVE to overpay for average guys to come here. At least that is the way it's been presented around here and in other media outlets. I also don't think Arroyo for 12M for the first 2 years is an overpay at all. As you say, the 3rd year is the killer, but that's the likely overpay the Twins will have to throw out there. If you were Arroyo would you take a 2yr deal with an option for a 3rd from the Twins, or take the exact same contract from any other team except the Astros? If I'm almost 40 years old and winning is important to me, I'm going elsewhere unless you guarentee me that last year...
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by bphat1 View Post
      SpiritofVodkaDave, I think that's the case if overpaying ANY player would get them to come to Minnesota, but I guess my argument is that is not the case. I think when the Twins were winning the AL Central most years in the '00's, it was an easier sell. Now it appears we're going to HAVE to overpay for average guys to come here. At least that is the way it's been presented around here and in other media outlets. I also don't think Arroyo for 12M for the first 2 years is an overpay at all. As you say, the 3rd year is the killer, but that's the likely overpay the Twins will have to throw out there. If you were Arroyo would you take a 2yr deal with an option for a 3rd from the Twins, or take the exact same contract from any other team except the Astros? If I'm almost 40 years old and winning is important to me, I'm going elsewhere unless you guarentee me that last year...
      I understand your points, however, Arroyo isn't the type of guy you over pay for. Considering:
      1. He is getting old, and 100 years of baseball data indicates he is a very very strong candidate for regression each passing season.
      2. He isn't anything special, yeah he is a nice #4/#5 but those aren't that difficult to find. If you want to sign him to a 2 year/20 mil deal, fine, I can live with that as its fair. But to overpay him just to convince him to sign here is wrong, again if you are going to do it, do it with a player that can exceed the contract. (Garza, Kazmir, Nolasco perhaps?)
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      even if I grant you that as fact, it doesn't address the primary issue spelled out above...it won't result in more wins becaus opposing pitchers will get the same benefit when they pitch in TF.
      Maybe this is the part that isn't clicking... Arroyo (and other RH flyball pitchers) stand to benefit more in comparison to those opposing pitchers due to the tendencies of their batted balls. It can absolutely benefit the Twins more than others.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      While Arroyo will be saved of giving up a few home runs, Twin left handed batters like Arcia and Mauer will also lose a few home runs. The net will be insignificant.
      Well, if the net (of the LHed power benefit/detriment) is insignificant with Arroyo on the roster, it's certainly a negative net without him.

      Getting players who are benefited by our homepark can only help, no matter how many players who are harmed by our homepark. Though, like many have suggested, what park effect TF actually has is pretty nebulous.
    1. goulik's Avatar
      goulik -
      Can a contract have multiple options. For example Team option at same amount as first two years, Player option at half of first two years with a two million buyout...

      If so, this would be the route to go on a third year...
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      I don't understand why the idea of a home park advantage for some players is being attacked here. The concept isn't imaginary and it only makes sense to factor it into personnel decisions. Especially if there is strong evidence to indicate it may be in play - as several posters have done an excellent job pointing out. It's just a shrewd component to include in the decision making process.
    1. Twins Twerp's Avatar
      Twins Twerp -
      mlbtraderumors.com says the Twins are still hot on Arroyo. If we get him for 2 plus a team option, that would be clutch. Everytime another pitcher signs elsewhere, Arroyo gets sexier and sexier.
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