VIERA, Fla. (AP) Bronson Arroyo decided to sign with the Nationals because Dusty Baker had been hired as Washington's manager.
''Given the circumstance that I'm in,'' Arroyo said. ''I needed somebody who was in a position of power to know what I can bring to the table regardless of what they see in a couple of weeks here in spring training, maybe read between the lines and say, `That's not exactly what we wanted, but it looks pretty good and I know what it can be.'''
Arroyo, who turned 39 Wednesday, is at spring training with a minor league contract and is competing with 29-year-old Tanner Roark and 22-year-old Joe Ross for a spot at the back of the rotation
Arroyo hasn't pitched since June 2014 with Arizona, a month after injuring his right elbow. He had Tommy John that July 15.
''I was throwing under 80 miles an hour and still being successful,'' Arroyo said. ''For me, it's always been a chess match. I've never had overpowering stuff. So there was definitely no question in my mind that I had something in the tank to give to a team.''
Actually, Arroyo's fastball was down to 87 mph before the injury, then dropped to the 84-85 range. Still, he was 7-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 2014.
Baker, Arroyo's manager in Cincinnati from 2008-13, described the right-hander as a leader and a mentor, recalling how the right-hander helped Mike Leake in Cincinnati. Baker remembered watching a Diamondbacks game from the stands as Arroyo talked to some of the team's younger pitchers.
''Hey, man, Bronson knows how to get it done,'' Baker said. ''He shows you. He teaches you. . People follow him. That's what a leader does. They don't say, `Let's go.' They just go and people follow them.''
Arroyo would get a $2 million salary if he is added to Washington's 40-man roster and have the chance to earn $6 million more in performances bonuses based on starts: $500,000 for 12 and each additional two through 22, and $600,000 for 24 and each additional two through 32.
The 15-year veteran is in the Nationals camp, competing with the much-younger Tanner Roark and Joe Ross for a spot at the back of the rotation. He hasn't pitched since 2014 when he underwent Tommy John surgery while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Though he says his elbow feels good,
Arroyo knows it won't be until spring training games start that he will get a true assessment of his pitching.
''It's not a big deal,'' Arroyo said. ''If I was 22 years old and I had this unknown, it would be a big deal. It would be very difficult to deal with.''
Arroyo is 145-131 with a 4.19 ERA in 15 big league seasons. He was a World Series champion with Boston in 2004, an All-Star with Cincinnati in 2006 and a Gold Glove winner with the Reds in 2010.
If he and the Nationals both agree his arm just needs a few more starts to be ready, he would accept a short stint in the minor leagues. If not, it will likely be the end of his career.
''I've exceeded everything I ever thought I would do in this game, so to be honest, I'm playing with house money right now,'' Arroyo said. ''I'm just going to go out and give it what I've got, and if it's good enough to pitch for a few more years, I'll be ecstatic. If it's not, I'll just have a bunch of free time on my hands that I haven't had for about 30 years.''