Bronson Arroyo, Fernando Rodney, K-Rod, Carlos Marmol, Luis Ayala Off the Table

This is hardly a news site — isn’t that what Twitter is for? — so you may have already heard that Fernando Rodney was made a Mariner, Bronson Arroyo agreed to a deal with the Diamondbacks, Francisco Rodriguez is returning to Milwaukee, and Luis Ayala has signed a minor-league contract with the Washington Nationals.

Rodney received a two-year, $14M contract to bolster the bullpen in Seattle. The 37-year-old presumably will enter spring training as the closer, while Danny Farquhar and Tom Wilhelmsen — who combined for 40 saves last year — will slot into setup roles. I don’t know about Rodney; he had that historical 2012 season, and had a high strikeout rate last year, but he’s otherwise been a middling middle reliever throughout his career. Also, for what it’s worth (not much, I’m sure), I don’t like the way Rodney wears his hat. There’s something fishy about that ’12 campaign, and I get the feeling that the 2014 Mariners could be the 2013 Blue Jays — plenty of big moves in the winter leading to high expectations, but the team falling like a house of cards by June.

Arroyo, also 37, agreed to a two-year, $23M deal with the Diamondbacks. That’s what durability costs in today’s market. Never considered spectacular, there’s one thing Arroyo does, and that is, take the ball every fifth day. He’s never been on the disabled list in his MLB career, and he pitched 200+ innings in 8 of the past 9 years. The one year he didn’t reach 200, he pitched 199 — while fighting mononucleosis, Valley Fever, and whooping cough, and losing 17 pounds. Personally, I thought he’d be a good fit for the Mets, but they chose to spend the big bucks on Bartolo Colon — presumably because Sandy Alderson’s strategy was to pay for upside, rather than consistency, this winter. Was it the right decision? We’ll know in about 6-7 months.

K-Rod returns to the Brewers for one year, $3.25M. No longer a lights-out closer, Rodriguez will team up with Brandon Kintzler to set up Jim Henderson. I don’t care for K-Rod, but he pitched well last year and seems to have settled into a middle-reliever role.

Carlos Marmol signed a one-year, $1.25M deal with the Miami Marlins. Marmol was a disaster with the Cubs for the past few years, but turned things around in Los Angeles in the final two months of 2013. Did he merely need a change of scenery? Not sure. He’s always been shaky, but for “only” $1.25M, seems like a good gamble for the Fish. He figures to fight for a setup role with Mike Dunn, A.J. Ramos, Carter Capps, and others. I don’t know if the Mets kicked the tires on Marmol, but I get the feeling he wouldn’t fit well in NYC, nor Dan Warthen.

Ayala received a minor-league contract and spring training invite from the Nats. Washington already has Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus, and Jerry Blevins in their bullpen, so Ayala will have a tough time earning a job.

Beyond whether these particular pitchers were good fits in Flushing, are you seeing a pattern? Teams are building up the back-end of their bullpens with three primary guys rather than one, and rotations are being made deeper than they were a few years ago. It was unusual when the Mets acquired K-Rod and J.J. Putz in the same winter, but now, it’s normal for a contending club to stockpile closers. And, over the past two years, it could have been argued that the Mets’ starting rotation depth was a strength, but presently, it’s not necessarily an advantage — not when so many teams seem to have 4-5 solid starters heading into spring training.

There was buzz that the Mets were in on Rodney, and now that he and Rodriguez are off the table, I’m not sure who is left to add to the bullpen in Flushing. Joel Hanrahan threw a “light” bullpen session (whatever that means) for the Mets recently, and Andrew Bailey remains unemployed, but both had major reconstructive arm surgeries less than 10 months ago. Rafael Betancourt is also coming off of surgery and will reportedly only return to the Rockies. Ryan Madson might be a good gamble, though he also is coming off a surgery (though, not as recent) and hasn’t pitched in MLB since 2011. Among the relievers who are presumably healthy and available include ageless wonders Kevin Gregg and Octavio Dotel. Lefty Mike Gonzalez is still unsigned, but he has not been very good since 2009. I don’t envision a reunion with Oliver Perez, and he’s really a LOOGY anyway. If there’s anyone else on the market, I would think that the Orioles would be all over him.

That said, it’s looking like the Mets’ big addition to the bullpen is Kyle Farnsworth — if he can make the team. Bobby Parnell is coming off of neck/back surgery and hopefully will be 100% by Opening Day as he’s the closer. Everyone is hot on Vic Black but he pitched all of 13 innings last year, most of them in September. We’ll get into the Mets relief candidates in a future post, but for now, it appears that an addition to the Mets bullpen won’t be happening before pitchers and catchers report. How do you feel about that? Answer in the comments.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. norme February 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm
    Not much to get excited about, Joe. Maybe it’s time for the Mets to give some big league bullpen exposure to the farmhands. Since this team is probably not going to contend in 2014, let’s give the youngsters a chance to learn how to pitch at the major league level.
    • Joe Janish February 8, 2014 at 7:38 pm
      Well, there isn’t much choice at this point. Further, Jeff Wilpon went on record as saying that he expects the Mets to contend for the Wild Card in 2014. Is that truly possible with the collection of youngsters that will be handling the bullpen duties?
      • DaveSchneck February 9, 2014 at 8:39 am
        The Mets can still contend for a wild card spot. At this point, it would require the addition of Drew or another comp to compete at SS, and it would require adding a healthy Madson or comp to the pen. The crowd has definitely thinned, so Alderson will need to find a way to be the winning bidder for each, and the odds of that are quite low. The abundance of arms as pen candidates is a good thing, but these kids will need to prove they can do it before we start counting those eggs as chickens.
        • Chums41 February 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm
          Not sure why everyone is so in love with the idea of Drew. If Collins/Alderson are willing to give Flores a legitimate shot at playing shortstop, by mid June everyone will be very pleased with that decision. I have been watching baseball for almost 50 years, and i have never seen a player with quicker hands that Flores. Never!! Let Tejada come in as an 8th inning fielding replacement/ And another guy everyone is pining over, Lowrie, is a .962 fielder, not exactly gold glove caliber. Let”s give our homegrown guys a real chance to succeed.
        • Joe Janish February 9, 2014 at 11:40 pm
          By “quick hands,” are you referring to Flores at bat or in the field?

          In the field, he has slow feet, so it doesn’t matter how fast his hands are. At bat, I don’t see extraordinary bat speed — by that, I mean, bat speed like Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez, or Miguel Cabrera. I’m not saying he has a slow bat, I’m just saying I don’t see anything particularly special. Further, Lastings Milledge had pretty good bat speed, but that didn’t help him enough to stay in MLB.

          Wilmer Flores looks to me like he could be a decent corner guy some day, but I don’t see enough athleticism to play an up-the-middle position. But then, I could be wrong. We’ll see soon enough.

        • DaveSchneck February 10, 2014 at 9:28 am
          Chums,
          Not in love with Drew, and I agree with you that a disproportionate amount of attention is on him. He is no game breaker, but frankly, what he offers is exactly what this team needs. Young pitching loves plus defense, and it is a good bet his glove will be plus the next two years. He is far from a slugger, but he is a legit MLB bat that can deepen the lineup a tad. To me, Tejada’s value increases when he shifts from everyday SS to middle inf sub, wherre he can play vs. LHP and bring plus D to 2B late in games. That is worth $20-$24 mil over 2 years, even if Drew only plays 130 games/year. This is the type of move competitive teams make. Now, if Alderson has a move up his sleeve for a slick young SS prospect, by all means, go for it if the price is not too high. Tovar needs more seasoning and they need a 2nd alternative at SS. Flores playing SS in the bigs, while possible, is more of a fantasy. Additonally, a SS/2B combo of Flores/Murphy will make ground ball pitchers queasy at a minimum.
        • Chums41 February 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm
          I was so pleased to hear that K-Rod signed with the Brewers. He is a whining punk who is well past his prime.
      • Chums41 February 9, 2014 at 3:51 pm
        Yes Joe, it absolutely is, you knucklehead! Take a look at the Braves bullpen 3-4 years ago. How that is so much different than the Mets current group. Black looked great last year. Familia has overpowering stuff. Montero would be lights out for one inning. Rice was pretty effective last year. Edgin and German both showed flashes of excellence. Regarding bringing in an effective veteran presence, does JJ Putz ring a bell? How about the stunning mediocrity of K-Rod? Or that 6’11” guy, who was so mediocre I can’t even remember his name. We have 7-9 young guys, let them battle it out in spring training. The end result will exceed expectations.
        • Joe Janish February 9, 2014 at 11:32 pm
          You think Montero, Black, Rice, Edgin, and Germen compare to Kimbrel, Venters, O’Flaherty, and Medlen? Is that the comparison you’re making?

          If so, we’ll have to agree to disagree.

      • Chums41 February 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm
        Yes Joe, it absolutely is, you knucklehead! Remember the Braves bullpen 3-4 years ago. How are they different than the Mets current group. Black looked great last year. Familia has overpowering stuff. Montero would be lights out for one inning. Rice was pretty effective last year. Edgin and German both showed flashes of excellence. Regarding bringing in an effective veteran presence, does JJ Putz ring a bell? How about the stunning mediocrity of K-Rod? Or that 6’11” guy, who was so mediocre I can’t even remember his name. We have 7-9 young guys, let them battle it out in spring training. The end result will exceed expectations.
    • JS1056 February 9, 2014 at 11:15 am
      You don’t win championships by having overpriced middle relievers. You don’t win championships with a core of over priced veterans on the decline at any position. The Yankees went on their run when they had a young core coming out of the minors and supplemented with veterans on the decline who played complimentary roles.
      Relievers have short life spans when it comes to effectiveness. The answer is to have as many big arms as you can and hope you hit lightening in a bottle and start all over again the next year. And if you stumble on a Mariano you win a lot of games.
      • Joe Janish February 9, 2014 at 1:37 pm
        First off, who advocated signing overpriced middle relievers? Second, what — in today’s market — constitutes “overpriced”? I mean that as a sincere question, not to be an arse, because I don’t know what overpriced means.

        During the “Mo Rivera Era,” the Yankees nearly always had a few good veteran middle relievers. For example, Jeff Nelson, Mike Stanton, Tom Gordon, Scott Proctor, Rafael Soriano. The recent Tigers teams have featured Joaquin Benoit and Dotel, among others. Were they overpriced? I don’t know. What I do know, is that as long as starters go only 5-6 innings, and closers only pitch in the 9th, those pitching the 6th through the 8th are often deciding the outcome of a game — so the better they are, the better chance a team has of a winning record.

        Relievers don’t necessarily have short life spans. As was brought up previously, relievers — and middle relievers / non-closers specifically — are inconsistent because they’re generally the worst pitchers on a given staff. I disagree that the answer is as simple as piling up “big arms” — whatever that means. What’s a “big arm”? Someone who throws 95+ MPH? If so, then I definitely disagree with that theory, because the Mike MacDougals, Jorge Julios, and Marcos Carvajals of the world can’t consistently retire big-league hitters.

        A good pitcher is a good pitcher regardless of how he is classified — be it closer, setup man, middle reliever, or starter. Teams are paying big salaries to former closers to be setup men / middle men because they’re the best that money can buy on the market. Does that mean they’re “overpriced middle relievers”? Maybe so. But a team isn’t going to win a championship without good pitching, regardless of how much money is spent on it.

  2. Metsfan February 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm
    Was 3.5 million extra too much to pay for some consistency and durability? Maybe we’ll all be surprised but a 40-year old overweight guy with a history of PED use and a controversial medical procedure that somehow gave life to his arm was probably not the best use of the meager amount of cash the team was willing to spend this off season. Note please, Colon will be 41 for most of the 2014 season. I will be very very surprised to see him pitch year 2 of this contract. That signing just blows my mind.
    • Joe Janish February 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm
      Agreed on Colon; I was stunned that the Mets would spend that much money on someone who would seem to be high-risk. However, Sandy Alderson recently said publicly that he was looking for “high-upside” players, and I suppose that his front office team figures that Colon has more potential upside than Arroyo.
    • JS1056 February 9, 2014 at 11:02 am
      I have a slightly different take on Colon. If he pitches well, and the team is competitive then obviously he will be a good bridge to Harvey in 2015. That is assuming that Harvey recovers which is likely but not guaranteed.
      If he pitches well but the team struggles he gets traded at the deadline for prospects. If Thor, Montero and Meja pitch well Colon goes anyway.
      If Colon doesn’t pitch well there will still be a contender who will take a flyer for a low level nonprospect. And they take the salary with him.
      The upside in Colon is the trade value. He will not be here next year anyway.
      • Joe Janish February 9, 2014 at 1:49 pm
        Good point — I hadn’t considered Colon’s trade value. I had been under the impression that the point of giving him a 2-year deal was because the Mets were gunning for a postseason bid when Harvey returned in 2015, and Colon would be part of that run.

        My concern with Colon is that his performance from the last two years was a mirage, and strongly dependent on pain killers and PEDs. His mechanics are extremely dangerous to the elbow and shoulder — two areas where he’s had problems in the past (not surprisingly). If he can use undetectable PEDs for recovery, maybe he’ll be fine. If he can’t, I expect to see him on the DL frequently. It’s really difficult to trade a pitcher on the DL at the deadline.

      • Joe February 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm
        I think the trade argument important to put out there — I also really question him still being here in ’15. I respect JJ’s concerns about his health. But, I think it’s a reasonable risk to take all things considered, especially if they are not holding the bag salary-wise. I think they very well might have to eat some of the salary after some trade but a reasonable amount. At least, it seems a safe bet.

        He’s basically a short term fix for ’14. If Arroyo actually was willing to come at the same price, he might have been a better option. But, I doubt that — he got more NOW, after all, A bit more, sure, but probably was more then. Might even have required three years.

        The Mets didn’t want to risk waiting to February to fill an important hole and even if they did, if the Mets offered about the same money, why not go to Arizona, which has a better chance at contention now?

    • Joe February 10, 2014 at 11:53 am
      It’s mid-February.

      Was his price a few million more back when the team actually got Colon? Or was more / a third year?

  3. argonbunnies February 8, 2014 at 8:07 pm
    There are still plenty of pitchers to be had if we want a slew of candidates from which to harvest a few okay relievers. Using our best minor league starters as okay relievers would be a waste.

    On the other hand, if our minor league starters could develop into elite relievers, the few guys in the sport who are good in the ‘pen every year, that’d trump what FA and trades have to offer. If Jacob DeGrom could become the next Tyler Clippard, I think you take that.

    Unfortunately, most elite relievers seem to have a wipeout #2 pitch, and I haven’t head of any Mets farmhands who possess a pitch like Clippard’s change up or Kimbrel’s slider. At least, not yet. Koji Uehara’s splitter didn’t become the nasty weapon it is today until he scrapped his change up. So maybe some future Met has that in them.

    If the Mets aren’t seeing that, though, better to keep our minor leaguers as starters, and acquire some more relievers. If they don’t make their respective teams, I bet Francis, Slowey, Baker and Blanton could all become the next Torres. As for guys out there right now, a ROOGY like Dotel has his uses.

  4. Joe February 10, 2014 at 11:49 am
    “a two-year, $23M deal with the Diamondbacks”

    Arroyo to the Mets was cited as an alternative. That sounds reasonable to me. But, the price tag might have been an issue. He’s getting 23M now … you’d think he was asking more before or (as I recall) a third year.

    I can understand why the Mets didn’t go for that.

    • Dan42 February 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm
      The 23M includes a buyout, if they pick up the option the 3rd year is “only” around 7M for a 39 year pitcher. A bad deal for the team in my book, as bad as the Met’s Colon deal.
      • DaveSchneck February 10, 2014 at 5:58 pm
        I am far from in love with Colon, but the points above are accurate – Alderson needed to fill the SP hole when he did, and Colon had the most reasonable price at that time. Even comparing his price, $9 mil in 2014, $11 in 2015 mil, to Arroyo’s, and even given his age, weight, and PED past, I think the Colon signing was less risky and costly than signing Arroyo. He did pitch to a 2.65 ERA in the adulterated league last year. If he was to pitch to a 3.50 ERA in the NL and Citifield, he will have value both to the Mets and in the marketplace, and if some kids push the issue, he can be dealt for an asset and salary relief.

        If Madson is healthy, Alderson should go after him aggressively. Like Colon, if enough kids in the pen excel and/or push the issue, and Madson is decent, there will be a trade market should the Mets not be in the WC race.

        • Joe Janish February 11, 2014 at 1:05 am
          I love that “adulterated league” is catching on.
        • DaveSchneck February 11, 2014 at 9:19 am
          Joe,
          That is absolutely one of my favorite phrases in the English language, a true “webgem”, so I use it out of respect for its creator and because there is no better way to sum up the use of DH in the most elite baseball league on the planet.
        • NormE February 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm
          I, too, love the term “adulterated league.”
          What I am finding interesting is the more frequent mentioning in some media reports of players having a preference to sign with teams in one of the two leagues based on the DH. Pitchers prefer the NL, while older or defensively challenged players look to the adulterated one. It’s not surprising.
          Unfortunately, sometime in the future the MLBA will push for adding the DH rule to the NL. The excuse will be that it is in baseball’s best interests to play by the same rules. But economic interests, rather than making baseball a better game, will be the true motivation.
        • DanB February 11, 2014 at 4:40 pm
          I have heard the “economic interests” theory but I don’t believe in it. First of all, AL and NL have the same number of players. Keeping or losing the DH will not effect the number of jobs. Secondly, without doing any research, I find it hard to believe that AL teams spend more money on payroll then NL teams. Sure, there are well paid DH’s, however if the DH went away, I believe it would mean that money would be allocated to players who can hit and field. Teams salary budgets would not go up nor down if the DH was eliminated. I can understand the argument that older players (who have more influence on the Union) would be for DH, but I don’t think that is enough reason for the Union to be for the DH. I think the split league rule is unusual, but that doesn’t make it wrong. I prefer the NL. Some prefer the AL. As long as the NL remains DH-less, the AL can do anything they want.
        • DaveSchneck February 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm
          Dan,
          I agree with you on the “economic interests” issue, but word is both MLB and the MLBPA like the DH, and my fear is that it is much more likely that the NL adopt the DH than the AL aboandon it. This topic has been rehashed many times, but to eliminate the DH would require a proposal that would win over the owners and the MLBPA. I think some type of roster expansion from 25 to 27, which would add more jobs, could win over the PA. MLB is worried about less offense, but it could be argued that a deeper bench could provide more platoons, which could increase offense in place of the DH/softball league type of hitter.
  5. Izzy February 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm
    Please Dave, not a 27 man roster. The teams would then have 9 man pens and Terry Collins and friends would drag the game on for an extra half hour over meaningless pitching changes. Add that to the extra time for challenges and games wouldn;t end until midnite.
    • Dan42 February 11, 2014 at 8:15 pm
      It would be trading 1 DH for an extra LOOGY, ROOGY and a platoon bat. Not the type of improvement I’d like to see.
  6. DaveSchneck February 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm
    No, the point would be to expand rosters to 2 with positional players, not pitchers, so I suppose some type of limit on pitchers would be in line. I agree, no more pitching changes. They could also implement a rule that a team could carry 27, but only dress 25, and no more that 10 pitchers any game. This would allow for more offense without adding bullpen arms. Removing the two previous SPs from the roster to get more offensive players that can see action. Anything to make the pitchers hit and the hitters field, you know, actual real baseball.
  7. Walnutz15 February 12, 2014 at 11:17 am
    Mets signed RHP Jose Valverde to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.Feb 12 – 10:10 AM

    LOL – hate this guy.