Cincinnati will not keep both Arroyo and Harang. Harang seems more likely to be ousted.
The Cincinnati Reds have plenty of pitching, with two rookies (Mike Leake and Travis Wood) proving they deserve to pitch alongside three other young hurlers (Jonny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, and Homer Bailey) in significant roles with next year's team.
That leaves the futures of the team's two veteran starters in doubt. Both Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo can be retained after the season, but because Cincinnati can save millions by cutting the cord, it will surely let at least one of them go.
Without doubt, Harang is the more likely of the two to be released. Buying out Harang could save the Reds $10.75 million (or almost $2 million more than buying out Arroyo), and the organization has soured on its longest-tenured player.
In 2006 and 2007, Harang was among the league's best pitchers. He eclipsed 230 innings each year, striking out nearly a batter per inning and walking scarcely more than two per nine innings during that time. He won 16 games each season, completing an impressive eight games in the process.
Then everything fell apart. Since the start of 2008, Harang has gone 18-38. His durability came into question when he missed four starts that season, and in fact, he has started just 45 times in 2009 and 2010. He continued to hover near 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.4 walks per nine until 2010, a season in which he has struggled in almost every way. His strikeout rate is the lowest it has been since 2003; his walk rate is higher than in any year since 2004.
Still, Harang may have upside. He will turn just 32 next May, meaning that (if nagging injuries do not persist) he could still have peak years ahead. His strand rate and BAbip this season are also career worsts, meaning bad luck has intervened in some respects.
Harang will certainly find a home, but it may be a smart gamble on Hendry's part to see if the big right-handed hurler has any of the old magic left.
Arroyo is a long shot to reach free agency. One can never have too much pitching, after all, and the Reds could well choose to keep Arroyo for one more go-around. If he were to become available, though, Hendry would certainly take an interest. Arroyo will surpass 200 innings for the sixth straight time this year, and has so far matched last year's 3.84 ERA exactly.
Arroyo will be 34 by Opening Day next year, and is what Cubs commentator Bob Brenly delights in calling a "kitchen sink" guy at this stage of his career: That is, lacking the stuff to strike many batters out, Arroyo relies on invention and deception to squeak out consistent success.
He will probably make more than he deserves this winter, but given Arroyo's 3.09 career ERA in 11 games at Wrigley Field, Hendry could justify bidding on the long-time Cubs killer.