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Monday's Rumor Mill Round-Up included an update on Bronson Arroyo, who was set to meet with multiple teams -- including the Twins -- at this week's Winter Meetings.
I judged the probability of a match being rather low, largely because I guessed the local club would cease to be aggressive bidders for a free agent of Arroyo's caliber after committing nearly $75 million Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, but Ken Rosenthal tweeted later in the day that the Twins were indeed making a push and that talks were "gaining momentum."
I'm still far from convinced that a deal will go down, but there's no denying the appearance of legitimate interest here. So what do the Twins see in Arroyo that would keep them involved even after adding two significant free agents to the mix?
For precedence, I look to another veteran pitcher who was mentioned in Monday's round-up: Carl Pavano.
It's no secret that the Twins loved having Pavano around. After acquiring him from the Indians during the 2009 season, they kept him aboard in 2010 with a $7 million arbitration agreement, and then re-signed him to a two-year, $16 million contract in the ensuing offseason. At the time, that was a massive free agent deal by their standards, and it pushed the 2011 payroll to a record $112 million.
Pavano had earned the commitment with an outstanding 2010 campaign in which he went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA over 221 innings, delivering seven complete games and two shutouts while helping lead a staff that dominated the AL Central. Clearly the Twins valued that effective durability very highly, and they probably value it even more in hindsight given what's transpired over the past couple years.
Let's compare Pavano's 2010 to Arroyo's average output with the Reds over the past two seasons:
Pavano, 2010: 221 IP, 3.75 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
Arroyo, 2012/13 (avg): 202 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 1.5 BB/9
Those are very, very similar numbers. Much like Pavano, Arroyo is a veteran strike-thrower who has been reliable for 200-plus innings and has posted above-average core numbers. When the Twins re-signed Pavano in 2011, he was a 35-year-old with a fastball in the high 80s; Arroyo is presently a 36-year-old with a fastball in the high 80s.
In a clear attempt to overhaul their shoddy rotation, the Twins have already added two established hurlers with a chance to make a real impact, but it appears that they're still seeking a veteran anchor for a group in which, even with Nolasco added in, youth still rules the day.
Arroyo is a risk for the many of the same reasons that Pavano was a risk -- he's aging, his velocity is declining and he doesn't miss too many bats. But Arroyo also has a much more consistent history of durability and success.
In many ways, he could be viewed as a rich man's Pavano, which might explain why the Twins are once again ready to step beyond their normal means to pursue.
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