When Matt Harvey found out he would miss the 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery, the New York Mets suddenly found themselves down a starting pitcher. It is no surprise that the team will likely look outside of the organization for help, with Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob DeGrom very likely to begin the year in the minors. One player who the Mets could potentially look to for help is 36 year-old Bronson Arroyo.
Arroyo broke into the league with the Pirates in 2000, appearing in 12 games with a 6.28 K/9, but he gave up far too many home runs. He continued to improve, though, and in 2004, after serving in middle relief to start the year, he posted 4.1 WAR, with a 7.27 K/9 as a starter en route to a poor postseason.
Arroyo stayed in Boston until 2006, but he was traded in the offseason for Willy Mo Pena after taking a contract below market value. Arroyo pitched well in his first season in Cincinnati but fell off the following year. He rebounded with three excellent campaigns in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Arroyo had a rough 2011, but he has posted numbers that were better than his career average the past two seasons.
Arroyo will turn 37 before the 2014 season but pitched to the tune of a 3.79 ERA, 5.52 K/9, and 1.51 BB/9 this year. One trademark of Arroyo's career has been a relatively low walk rate, with a career average of 2.46 walks per nine. Advanced metrics have not been as kind to Arroyo, but he's capable of being a great fifth starter, especially if Jenrry Mejia is able to make it back for the Mets next season.
The Reds did not make a qualifying offer to Arroyo, with Tony Cingrani supposedly ready to take his spot in the rotation, meaning the Mets would not have to forfeit a draft pick to sing him. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors seems to think that Arroyo will get a 2-year, $24 million contract. This seems to be a pretty good estimate given the market for free agent pitchers.
The Mets realistically will need to fill two starting rotation spots this offseason, and Arroyo could be a good back-of-the-rotation starter at a fair price. Arroyo's agent suggested that the Mets were on his client's radar, and I fully expect the Mets to go after Arroyo with conviction. It would be of no surprise if Arroyo were pitching in Queens next season.