Word of the Orioles being "interested" in players was thrown around so much during MLB's winter meetings that it may have descended into the realm of parody. Things died down somewhat after that as the front office seemed to have gone into a winter slumber not unlike a hibernating bear. Wake up a sleeping bear and it will probably maul you with savage claws as it unleashes a primal roar. Wake up the Orioles, and, well...
The Orioles are among the teams interested in Bronson Arroyo. The question, of course, is around contract terms.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 6, 2014
Arroyo is not a name that will move the needle much in terms of excitement, but he could be the sort of stabilizing force in the rotation that the team could use. He has made at least 32 starts in each of the past nine seasons, throwing 200 innings or more in eight of the last nine seasons. In the ninth season, he pitched 199 innings. That is a pitcher who is an actual innings-eater, rather than a crappy pitcher who's thrown into the rotation and labeled an innings-eater even as they average 5.1 innings per start because it's not polite to call them crappy.
In eight years with the Reds, he's managed a 4.05 ERA. That's nothing special, but every inning thrown by someone like Arroyo, assuming he keeps level with his recent performance, is an inning not thrown by a panic starter like the long-gone Freddy Garcia or the still-here Zach Britton. The Orioles like to talk about acquiring depth, but remember, you don't want to experience the Orioles depth.
A number of recent years, the Orioles have not even had a single starter with more than 200 innings pitched. Chris Tillman managed it in 2013. The team has not had multiple 200+ innings starters since 2000, when Mike Mussina and Sidney Ponson each passed that mark. Arroyo's track record means it would not be crazy to pencil him in to continue to pitch over 200 innings. He is probably more likely to do so than Tillman, in fact.
In 2013, Arroyo was getting a salary of about $16.5 million from the Reds. If he would be looking for something along those lines for 2014, it's hard to imagine the Orioles shelling that out for a two-year deal or even a one-year deal. They have seemed allergic to laying out significant money on the free agent market this off-season. He may be asking for less, given that he's going into his age 37 season, but he's had a sub-4.00 ERA in four of the last five seasons.
Given what other starters are getting, there's no reason for him to accept peanuts, even considering his age.
Should the Orioles sign him? The biggest question mark would be how his results would translate when going from the NL Central to the AL East. He's already been homer-prone in Cincinnati with a HR/9 rate of about 1.3, which is bad, if not Matuszian. According to ESPN's park factors, Camden Yards and the Great American Ball Park were similar for home runs, with the Reds stadium being slightly worse for pitchers.
Arroyo's walk rate has declined in each of the last five seasons. In 2013, he got 44.4% ground balls. With the Orioles infield defense, that would probably be a good situation for Arroyo. Maybe it will even be a good enough situation for the Orioles to open up their wallet for a free agent for the first time in eons.