Yesterday, John Fay of the Cincinnatti Enquirer reported that Bronson Arroyo is not willing to restructure his contract to stay with the Reds. Arroyo, who can become a free agent after this season if the Reds don’t exercise his $11 million option, says:

“For what I’ve done the last six years in this game,” he said, “to sign back for less than what my option is would be insane. The quality starts and the number of innings I’ve thrown up over the years less than five dudes in this game have done that.”

Let’s ignore for a moment the dubious nature of Arroyo’s suggestion that he’s been one of the five best pitchers in baseball over his career*. It doesn’t matter. After all, teams aren’t going to pay him for what he’s accomplished. They’re going to pay him based on what he will accomplish.

And that’s where Arroyo runs into trouble. His strikeouts have declined each of the last three seasons, while his walks are up. So far this season he’s got a strikeout/walk ratio of nearly 1, which is bad, and an ERA of 4.04, which is pretty good. Unfortunately, that ERA is being propped up by an unsustainably low .250 batting average on balls in play. When that BABIP creeps up (and it will creep up) more runs will score.

Arroyo has had a couple of very good seasons in his career. Twice he’s posted a WAR above 4. But that hasn’t happened since 2006. Since then, he hasn’t posted a WAR above 3, and last season he was only worth 1.8 WAR.

Fangraphs says Arroyo has been worth $11 million (or nearly $11 million) almost every season he’s pitched. Except last season, when he was worth closer to $8 million. And this season, he’s unlikely to match that.

It’s possible the Reds will pick up Arroyo’s option. They might decide that overpaying for a guy who’s a safe bet to pitch 200 innings is worth it.

But if Arroyo can convince the Reds to sign him to a three or four year deal, even if it’s for a little less than $11 million a year, he should take it. Because right now he’s trending in the wrong direction. And come December, he might not find too many other clubs chomping at the bit to throw big money at a pitcher whose best days seem to be behind him.

Then again, if Arroyo doesn’t land a big contract on the open market he’s still got his music career.

*For the record, this season Arroyo has 10 quality starts. There are 51 pitchers with more. In 2009, he had 23 quality starts. 10 pitchers had more. In 2008, he had 18 quality starts and 41 pitchers had more. And in 2007, he had 22 quality starts and 11 pitchers had more.

3 Responses to “Bronson Arroyo should restructure his contract”

  1. Nick Kapur says:

    Coley, you are right about Arroyo, I think, but I can sort of sympathize with his feelings. After all, he signed a very team-friendly extension in order to stay with the Red Sox, and then got burned when they promptly traded him away for Wily Mo Pena. Hard to blame him for preferring to test the market this time and see what he is really worth…

  2. As a Reds fan, I sincerely hope the Reds let him walk. He is not worth what his option will pay, let alone more than that for multiple years. I have a small suspicion that this is a ploy to ensure that the Reds offer arbitration (he’ll be type A). Probably not, but his trends are disconcerting to say the least. The Reds have gotten what they need from him, and there is not much left. Don’t pay for it.

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