The main problem is that Randall Delgado doesn't have any minor-league options left. Let's have a quick refresher course on the basics there, since it has been a while. :) Players can't be sent up and down to the minors at will. The first time in a season a player gets reassigned, it uses up one of his "options" (or "option years"); you can then bring him up or down as many times as you want, over the course that season. But a player only has three options: once those years are used up, if you want to send him down, he has to be put through waivers, which allows any other team to claim him.
If things shake down this spring as we expect - though, as we'll see, that's by no means certain - it means we will need to find a place in the bullpen for Delgado, since there seems to be close to zero chance he'd make it through waivers and be able to be re-assigned to the Aces. That's a little problematic, with Delgado having been a starter for virtually his entire professional career. He had one relief game as a 17-year-old in the Dominican rookie league, one with the Braves in 2012, and the mop-up appearance mentioned above. That's it. 169 professional games played; 166 of them as a starter.
Not that this is necessarily a problem: as we saw with Josh Collmenter, some pitchers make the transition very well, their "stuff" playing better when they don't have to see the same batters three or four times in a game. Delgado certainly didn't seem to have any concerns over a potential move: "If they think I'm going to be better there, it's OK. Wherever they send me, I'm going. I don't have a problem with that." Admittedly, what would you expect him to say, especially bearing in mind what happened to a previous D-backs starting pitcher who publicly expressed concern to the media about the possibility of losing his rotation spot...
It seems likely Delgado will be moved to the bullpen, considering that trading him would remove the pitching depth which was one of the justifications for acquiring Arroyo to begin with. However, the Diamondbacks already appear to have a full complement of relievers. At the back end, there's J.J. Putz, Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler, with Joe Thatcher and David Hernandez just behind those. We all know how effective Josh Collmenter was last season, vital in those extra-inning games. And Harris was, in some ways, even more effective with a dozen more appearances than Collmenter, along with a superior, sub-three ERA.
However, the cruel math of options - he has them, Delgado doesn't - means even that may not be enough to give him a job on Opening Day. As with the rotation, it almost certainly wouldn't be a permanent reassignment to Reno. He'd likely be the first name ticketed to return, and the team used a total of 15 relievers last season, even discounting the one-off work by more regular starters Delgado and Trevor Cahill. So, we will still see Harris: the odds are, sooner rather than later, with my bet being some point in April, to be honest.
Perhaps a more vexing question is what using Delgado in the bullpen would do to its make-up with, effectively, two long relievers in him and Collmenter. It would also make it more difficult for Randall to be converted back to being a starter, if we needed a spot start on short notice: partly because the odds are, he'd have pitched fairly recently, and partly because, if you're throwing one inning on a regular basis, you can't suddenly go back to throwing five or more. [Unless you're Josh Collmenter, in which case, shrug and go, "Whatever."] Using Delgado as a reliever would seem to make it less likely he'd be used as starter #6. Though there is one possibility that might help.
Who? Oh, yeah. The guy we picked up from the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings. The way that works is, he has to be kept on the 25-man roster for the entire season, or be offered back to his original team. Mateo's chances of managing that were already pretty slim, given the bullpen crunch mentioned previously, and would now appear, barring injury, to have evaporated entirely. It's possible we still work out a trade with the Northsiders, to allow him to remain a Diamondback, but if I were him, I'd only be getting a short-term rental in the Phoenix area for this spring.
Yes. Not a pitcher. I know. However, it's not unheard of for a team to carry an extra bullpen arm - eight relievers instead of seven - and have a shorter bench. For the latter, spots seem assured to Cliff Pennington, Eric Chavez, whatever backup catcher we use, and A.J. Pollock. With a regular bullpen, the team seems to be leaning toward carrying another outfielder. Over the weekend, Kevin Towers "mentioned Matt Tuiasosopo, Tony Campana, Alfredo Marte and Shelley Duncan as possible candidates for the fifth spot," but Campana is the only left-hander, which would bring a bit more balance to an outfield roster which already skews heavily rightie.
There are other factors which come in to play here, most obviously the recovery rate of Cody Ross, which is the main reason the team is thinking along these lines. If Ross is fully fit, or not fit enough to be on the roster at all, the fifth outfielder question kinda solves itself, and opens up the possibility of making the 25th spot for an extra bullpen arm. However, if Ross is in a grey area of health - say, fit enough to play occasionally, yet not able to do so regularly [an area marked on the wellness map as "Here be Chavez"], then having an extra body who can replace him may be more important than an extra bullpen arm.
"I've said from the beginning, with Archie, it's not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he's ready coming out of the spring and we're a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he's going to be there... I want it to be a competitive spring and him to approach this spring no differently than when Arroyo's name came up."
-- Kevin Towers
I don't know about you, but I don't believe it. I suspect Bradley doesn't believe it. I'm fairly certain Towers doesn't believe it either, and is just being a good GM, saying the right things to bolster his prospect's confidence. Before Arroyo was signed, to make the rotation on Opening Day, Bradley's goal was to be better than Delgado, which, if not a shoo-in, was certainly feasible. However, Arroyo, Cahill and Brandon McCarthy seem virtually guaranteed spots, so Archie is now looking at having to be better than either Wade Miley or Patrick Corbin: the 2012 Rookie of the Year runner-up and a 2013 All-Star respectively. Bit more of a challenge.
It probably doesn't faze Bradley, who seems possessed of a poise well in excess of his 21 years. Speaking before the Arroyo signing, he said: "I heard a quote, ‘If you face the music, the music goes away'. You embrace it. You take it on and you face it. You don't back away from it... I think I put more pressure and expectations on myself than what (others) do." Well, it's selections from the songbook of Arroyo that now appear to be being played. It's hardly a roadblock, likely only delaying Bradley's arrival in the majors for a little longer - perhaps until after he no longer has any chance to become a Super Two, and so getting to arbitration a year early.