Friday, June 1, 2007

Arroyo and Possible Injury

After last night's shellacking at the hands of the Houston Astros, it's looking more and more like Bronson Arroyo is injured.

On May 16th, Arroyo pitched against the Padres and worked 8 strong innings, but was left in to throw 129 pitches. He pitched well, but his 129 pitch was called a ball and resulted in a game losing bases loaded walk.

The bullpen was overworked and unreliable, so Narron enabled Arroyo to work deep into the game. Unfortunately, the Reds did not build a reliable bullpen this past off season, which has resulted in countless lost games and potentially an injury to Arroyo.

Since that game, Arroyo has pitched 3 times, each time getting shelled. He has thrown 11 innings, given up 24 hits, 7 walks, struck out only 4, and allowed 20 runs. During that span, his ERA has risen from 2.64 all the way up to 4.73.

After last night's game against the Astros, Arroyo said that he felt as good as ever and catcher David Ross said that it was the best stuff he'd seen Arroyo have this season. However, the results certainly suggest that Arroyo is pitching hurt, which would be even more unfortunate after the contract extension he received from the Reds over the off season.

This past off season, the Reds gave contract extensions to Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo. It seemed like odd time to extend Arroyo, who was coming off a career best season and was still locked into a below market contract that he signed with the Red Sox. Arroyo signed a multiyear contract with the Red Sox that was below market rate in the hopes of staying in Boston, but the contract actually made him a more attractive trade target for the Reds.

The contract paid him $2.75M in 2006, $3.8M in 2007, and $3.95M in 2008. Given that Arroyo had two years left on a very reasonable contract, it seemed a strange time to extend him further. However, that's precisely what the did when they gave him a contract extension through 2010 with a 2011 team option. The Reds gave him an extension which will pay him $9.5M in 2009, $11M in 2010, and a team option for $11M in 2011.

Given that baseball contracts are guaranteed, contracts are largely about assigning the risk between the two parties. When a team hands out a multiyear contract, it is assuming the majority of the risk. If the player gets injured or sees his production decline, he still gets paid at the negotiated rate. Of course, the team has assumed the risk that they will not get the production for which they are paying.

Given that Arroyo was under contract at a very reasonable rate, it seems like the Reds assumed an unnecessary portion of the risk by offering Arroyo an extension. If Arroyo is actually injured, then the Reds decision to assume such a large portion of the risk may come back to haunt them.

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