With Chicago in the midst of a five-game losing streak, the eyes of most Cubs’ fans have turned to the offseason, where the team is expected to be a player in the free agent market, at least in terms of mid-market players. With a solid core of young pitchers all vying for rotation spots in 2014, a prime question should be ‘Who do the Cubs pursue?’ In my mind, one pitcher stands out above the rest: Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo.
For over a decade, Arroyo has been one of the most consistent pitchers in all of baseball. He’s never going to win a Cy Young award, but that doesn’t depreciate his value as a core member of several solid rotations. He was part of the Boston Red Sox run that saw the organization break the ‘Curse of the Bambino’ in 2004 and has helped lead a resurgence in Cincinnati over the last few years, failing to reach 200 innings pitched once in the last eight years; and in that season he pitched 199 innings and change.
Arroyo will be 37 next February, but he has shown no signs of diminished ability on the mound, and would give Chicago something that has been sorely lacking in 2013 – a consistent starting pitching. Apart from Travis Wood, both Edwin Jackson and Jeff Samardzija have struggled with consistency, something that must change moving forward. Inking Arroyo to a two-year deal that would take him through his age 38 season would add much-needed stability to the rotation as the franchise enters the next stage of the rebuilding effort.
Entering play on Thursday with a 13-11 record and a 3.56 earned run average, Arroyo is having a very strong year for the Reds, who are still very much in the hunt for the National League Central title with less than two weeks to play. With his widespread knowledge of the National League Central (he has spent 11 of his 14 seasons with the Reds and Cardinals), he brings experience that can be lent to younger members of the pitching staff – something you can’t put a dollar value on.
In every season since 2004, the right-hander has made at least 30 starts, en route to a career record of 137-126 with a 4.17 ERA over 14 campaigns. He is also known as a stellar clubhouse presence, something that young clubs – like the Cubs – can never have enough of.
President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has already said that the team likely won’t make any big splashes in the free agent market this winter, but that the team will likely look to address shortcoming on the roster through sensible moves. In my book, Bronson Arroyo fits that Nate Schierholtz-type mold that the organization established last season, and would help this team with one of its largest holes – a consistent middle-of-the-rotation starter.