Now that the Dodgers have plenty of options when it comes to the bench and the infield going into Spring Training after signing utility guy Justin Turner to a minor league deal today, the next spot to speculate about is the fifth starter slot. Dee Gordon, Brendan Harris, Miguel Rojas, Justin Turner, Justin Sellers, and Chone Figgins will all be lobbying to make the team out of Spring, but the most coveted spot still remains that of the last one in the starting rotation.
Buster Olney of ESPN seems to think that the Dodgers have an offer to Arroyo out on the table:
"If Bronson Arroyo wants to pitch for the Dodgers, I’d bet there’s a two-year deal there waiting for him.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 5, 2014"
Arroyo is still sans team and pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Camelback Ranch this weekend. Will Arroyo be on the plane to Arizona, or will he be on a jet to some other Spring Training facility? While it is a bit surprising that the veteran hasn’t landed a deal with a team yet, I still think this potential team shouldn’t be the Dodgers. While a three-year deal for Arroyo seems completely illogical, a two-year deal would really block some of the Dodgers potent pitching prospects in the pipeline (that’s a lot of Ps!).
While Scott feels that signing Bronson Arroyo isn’t the worst thing that could happen, I tend to disagree just a tad. Sure, there are more expensive free agents out there and some who would even cost the Dodgers a draft pick. Yet by signing Arroyo, even to a one-year deal, it would essentially block Zach Lee and Ross Stripling from breaking into the rotation this season. With Josh Beckett still on the docket, the pecking order would grow even longer, and Stripling and Lee would have to wait until a injury to one of the starters pops up in order to debut with the Dodgers during this season.
A Dodger signing of Bronson Arroyo would be a high kick in the gut to other Dodgers like Beckett, Billingsley, Lee, and Stripling. Photo: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Is Bronson Arroyo even that much better than Josh Beckett (when Becketts’s healthy of course)? Sure, Arroyo has great command and hasn’t broken down yet. At more than three years older than Beckett, a two-year deal to Arroyo would sign him through his 39-year old season. The Dodgers were so vocal in their supposed goal to go with youth, so signing Arroyo over going with someone much younger like Lee seems counterproductive. Plus, Arroyo allows like a hundred homeruns per season. Well, maybe not that many, but he did allow 32 long balls with Cincinnati last season and an eye-popping 46 in 2011. Even though the Dodgers will hopefully have full, healthy seasons of potential homerun producers like Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Adrian Gonzalez all in the lineup, the amount of runs scored has been on the low side of the league for the Dodgers in recent years. Allowing upwards of 30-40 homeruns out of your fifth starting spot could spell more work for the offense which is a lot to ask.
It’s not like the Dodgers don’t have plenty of options when it comes to pitching arms this Spring. Not only will they have to give Beckett an opportunity for redemption, but Chad Billingsley will be back mid-summer. Has everyone forgotten about Bills already? If the Dodgers were to sign Arroyo to a two-year deal, they would probably have to pitch Billingsley out of the bullpen. The Dodgers will also have Seth Rosin to make a decision on who was picked up from the Mets during the Rule 5 Draft. Rosin would have to remain on the Major League roster the entire season otherwise he would be offered back to New York. Matt Magill and Stephen Fife are also still around, and either of them would make acceptable fifth starters for a lot of teams.
The biggest concern I have is the road block Zach Lee and Ross Stripling will have to deal with should the Dodgers sign Arroyo to more than a one-year deal. I’m rooting for Lee to make the team out of Spring Training since the young hurler looks to be ready to rumble this Spring. The Dodgers have strategically chosen not to move Lee these past couple of offseasons, so if they choose to sign an almost 37-year old veteran to take that last rotation spot for the next two years, all those squelched trade rumors which involved Lee will come back up in conversation as “what ifs.”
At first Spring Training seemed like it was set to be a bit of a snoozer with most of the roster already spelled out, but now it has started to look like there will be some competition after all as far as bench spots and the final rotation slot. Let’s hope the competition for the fifth starting spot stays alive this Spring with the Dodgers opting to go young instead of drinking water from the old Arroyo.