Could Reds’ Arms Be on the Move to the AL East?


August 19, 2009

Could Reds' Arms Be on the Move to the AL East? This might sound hard to believe, but there is some news out there concerning Bronson Arroyo that involves actual baseball.

Amid the countless reports about Arroyo's recent controversial statements regarding quasi-legal drug use in baseball, there's also speculation that Arroyo could be a contributor in an actual pennant race down the stretch.

But not in Cincinnati.

The Reds, who have been nursing a double-digit deficit in the NL Central for months, finally seem ready to jump ship. They've got over $70 million invested in this year's losing team, and while they had a chance to bail out back in July before the trading deadline, they didn't follow through.

There's still hope for them yet.

Recent reports out of Cincy indicate that both Arroyo and Reds teammate Aaron Harang have cleared waivers making them eligible to be traded. And for a Reds team way under .500 with no reason to sink money into the 2009 product, a deal would make sense.

The Reds are in a serious pickle here. Their four biggest contracts — Arroyo, Harang, Francisco Cordero and Scott Rolen — all expire in either 2010 or 2011. And yet the Reds aren't in a position to win before then. With all apologies to Joey Votto and Edinson Volquez, they just don't yet have the young talent to make the playoffs. Maybe they'll have a shot sometime down the road, when Harang is 35 and Arroyo is collecting Social Security checks. But the window isn't yet open.

Those four big contracts add up. This year, they total $43.5 million for four guys. Next year, it'll only be more. If the Reds want to free up some cash, they'll make a deal.

Neither pitcher is having a good year at the moment. Arroyo has an ERA of 4.74, and his power is even less evident than usual — he's struck out only 85 batters in 153 2/3 innings. Harang's 6-14 record this season is bad, but one look at his 4.35 ERA and 138 strikeouts proves that he's really only mediocre.

With their stock where it is, both guys should be gettable without selling the farm. And they're both quality arms that could help any team in a pennant race. Their resumes dictate that — they're both proven veteran arms that are far from over the hill.

Arroyo has a two-year, $25 million deal that runs through the end of next season. Harang is signed to a four-year, $36.5 million contract that expires after 2010 as well. If either guy is going to get dealt, it'll be to a team that's willing to show them the money.

I can think of a couple.

These things often come down to the Red Sox and the Yankees. We all know that. And both clubs are in a position where one more arm might be a huge help.

In Boston, the Red Sox have seven starting pitchers, but that's not as comfortable a situation as it sounds. Two are young and not always dependable; two are injured with uncertain futures; and one is healthy and experienced, but hasn't had a good start in almost a month. Maybe another arm or two could do the Sox some good.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have five starters. But Joba Chamberlain may be too young to take on serious innings, and Sergio Mitre frankly doesn't look fit for the majors — at least not in the American League, where he's getting hammered. The Yanks wouldn't mind having one more guy around who looks like he belongs in a pennant race.

No one knows yet what will happen. There are several combinations of Reds arms and AL East rotations that make sense. Time will tell if any of them ever come to fruition, but it certainly makes fiscal sense that one will.

The Reds' arms have already made plenty of headlines this month. Maybe next time, it'll be for their pitching.

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