— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) February 1, 2014
Cafardo followed up last night by adding, "What’s holding things up, according to a major league source, is the vesting option and/or third year he’s been asking for. It appears a straight two-year deal might be beneficial in getting it done." This would tie in with GM Kevin Towers' reluctance to commit to long-term contracts for pitchers - it's interesting that this seems to apply, even to someone like Arroyo, who has been among the most reliable of starters over the last decade. He has made at least 32 starts every season, and his 326 starts are the greatest number in the majors since 2004 (only three other pitchers have more than 300).
Given this, interesting that he has had severe trouble finding employment this winter: here we sit, with our pitchers reporting to spring training in a couple of days, and he's still a free-agent. It's not like he has even been being picky about it: he told Fox Sports that, while there has been interest on some level from no less than a dozen teams, "I don't even have an offer to turn down." He sounds somewhat bitter: "They forget about guys like me, who have done the job for the last eight or 10 years, and treat them like they've never done anything in this game. That's hard, man." However, turning 37 this month and asking for a three-year, $30 million contract might have something to do with it.
Arroyo is the very definition of an innings-eater, and any team will be pretty sure what they're going to get: 200 innings with an ERA+ between 90 and 110. Because that's exactly what he has delivered, six years out of the past seven. However, it seems that Arroyo is now setting his sights lower, looking at a guaranteed two years with some kind of option - based on innings pitched, etc. - for a third, with the whole thing probably somewhere around the same, $10 million per year rate. I'm fairly sure someone will bite, considering Ricky Nolaso, who has been worse and less durable, got four years and $49 million.
For the Diamondbacks, it would give the team greater depth, likely pushing Randall Delgado back to Reno to start the season - though only until the annual Brandon McCarthy DL stint shows up. It'd also allow the team to hold off on starting the service-time clock on Archie Bradley. But I'm not certain how much genuinely better the signing would make us. Based on previous performance, he's likely worth about two fWAR - and the STEAMER projections have Delgado worth 1.9 fWAR this season, albeit likely with a good deal less certainty. And that may be the point from Towers' view: Arroyo is a solid insurance policy to have, though at $10 million per, not a cheap one.
However, one aspect of his game might play particularly well at Chase. He has some pop in his bat, with only four active pitchers having hit more career home-runs. Indeed, on a game against us here in 2012, his home-run off Tyler Skaggs (initially ruled a double, but changed after review) proved to be the margin of Cincinnati victory for their 3-2 victory. Maybe the chance to hit regularly in Phoenix might help us lure Arroyo to the desert.