The Arizona Diamondbacks made no bones about it this offseason, their one and only prized target was Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
Unfortunately for general manager Kevin Towers, despite his best laid plans and an impressive pitch that kept the organization in the running until the very end, Tanaka ultimately opted to take his talents to the Big Apple, signing a seven-year, $155 million contract — the fifth-largest for a pitcher in MLB history.
Towers could have sat idly by, but instead opted to bolster Arizona’s rotation will the best, or at very least, most durable option remaining on the market: 36-year-old Bronson Arroyo.
“Financially, we weren’t far off [with Tanaka negotiations],” Towers told the Dan Bickley Show with Vince Marotta at the D-backs Fan Fest Saturday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “But, when you get into a high-stakes poker game with the New York Yankees, you’re usually going to lose. I mean the great thing was, though, that someone like Bronson [Arroyo] was still available.”
Arroyo, a 14-year veteran, doesn’t have Tanaka’s stuff and likely won’t challenge Patrick Corbin at the top of the D-backs’ rotation, but he offers the team something it lost given the recent departures of David Holmberg and Tyler Skaggs.
“We were able to add depth to our pitching staff, because we made some trades this year and lost some players who had provided us with that depth before,” D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall told Doug and Wolf at the D-backs Fan Fest Saturday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “Now, we needed it.”
In Arroyo, Arizona won’t just be getting depth but a pitcher who can serve as a viable option just about anywhere in the rotation.
The former reliever turned starter has won 14 games or more six times in his career, a career ERA of 4.19 and a spotless injury record.
“This is a guy since 2006 who is second in quality starts to only Matt Cain,” said Hall. “He first among all pitchers in wins and in starts and in innings. He’s just a durable guy. You don’t want to jinx anything, but he’s never been on the disabled list as a minor leaguer or major leaguer. And, he brings a great veteran presence, which is something that you need.”
It’s that presence that might be a more attractive trait than the innings he’ll presumably eat up or the wins he’ll likely accumulate. With talented young pitchers like Archie Bradley and Randall Delgado trying to stick with the big league club, Arroyo will serve as invaluable resource as they continue to battle through their respective growing pains.
“We’ve heard all along that this is a guy you want to target to get in your clubhouse, because he’s such a good clubhouse guy,” said Hall. “He’s such a leader. In Cincinnati, he took the young pitchers, [Mike] Leake and Homer Bailey, under his wing. That’s what he’s known for. If he didn’t make an All-Star team, he didn’t go home. He stayed in Cincinnati and worked out for four days. You want that kind of commitment. That’s why he’s still pitching effectively at 36, 37, 38 and 39.”
Arroyo’s contract with the D-backs is a two-year deal worth $23.5 million with a club option for a third year. The former All-Star is expected to join the team next week.