"I really haven't paid any attention to it," Arroyo said by phone. "I haven't been on Reds.com or ESPN.com to read it, so I've been totally clueless. People tell me, 'I've seen your name thrown around in trade talk.' Honestly, I'm not thinking about it. If I got traded before Opening Day, I'd be more surprised than when I was traded from Boston [to the Reds in March 2006]." The Reds have limited payroll flexibility heading into 2010, with nine players under contract set to earn a combined $64 million and without settling deals with arbitration-eligible players or other players under team control. The 2009 payroll was at $73 million, which has prompted speculation that Cincinnati will have to trade some players to lower payroll or keep it the same. Arroyo is set to earn $11 million next season with an $11 million club option for 2011 ($2 million buyout). During a time of year when rumors can border on the absurd, the 33-year-old was rational about the situation. "In my mind, there was no reason to get [Scott] Rolen [in a July 31 trade] if we're turning around and moving guys without waiting to see what happens [during the season]," Arroyo said. "I think they'll give us four months to see if we can compete in the division. If we're not, we'll have a big scale back. For now, they seem committed to win." Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said last week it was premature to speculate that the Reds would have to cut payroll. Jocketty's reasoning was that the front office had not decided on a final budget as it awaits the outcome of December season ticket sales, among other factors. During a winter where the free-agent market is weak for starting pitching, Arroyo is coming off of another good year. He was 15-13 with a 3.84 ERA in 33 starts. A 200-innings pitcher for five consecutive seasons, he worked 220 1/3 innings in 2009. Over his final 16 starts, the right-hander's 2.07 ERA after July 10 was the best ERA in the Majors. "I know the budget is tight," Arroyo said. "But if you re-sign Ramon [Hernandez] for a year, why then go in the other direction? If we were saving, we could have easily had [Ryan] Hanigan catching 130 games next year." Arroyo pitched this past season despite being nagged by carpal tunnel soreness in his right wrist and hand. It required two cortisone shots but he opted against offseason surgery. "It's been good and I haven't felt it at all," Arroyo said. "I've been playing my guitar and haven't felt it. I have a show with [ESPN's] Peter Gammons on Jan. 9 and after that I'll probably stop playing." Since joining the Reds, Arroyo has a 53-50 record with a 4.00 ERA in 136 starts. He has won at least 14 games in three of the past four seasons. "Over four years, you build credibility as a guy who will stay healthy," Arroyo said. "I have toed the rubber every time. I'm not remotely thinking about pitching anywhere else for at least a half a season, but we need to have a good April, May and June."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.