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.