Fay: Bronson Arroyo never let money go to his head, and that's why he's still pitching

Fay: Bronson Arroyo never let money go to his head, and that's why he's still pitching
Posted at 10:00 AM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 10:00:22-05

GOODYEAR, Arizona -- Bronson Arroyo is neither an iPhone nor an Android guy: He's a flip phone guy who texts and talks on a device that qualifies as an antique in the Digital Age.

But, for Arroyo, it's a reminder that the fame and fortune of baseball are fleeting.

Much has been made of what Arroyo can do for the Reds staff as a veteran presence. He is the rare crafty right-hander, a guy who has gotten more out of less. He said he does that with his mind by outsmarting hitters.

But Arroyo doesn't just lend his expertise about pitching. His advice to young players: Don't go nuts with the your money. You can be just as content with a flip phone as anything else.

Bronson Arroyo throws during 2017 spring training. (Phillip Lee | WCPO)

"I just had a 20-minute conversation with Michael Lorenzen about it," Arroyo said Monday morning. "It's almost natural, in some ways, to make mistakes along the way. You don't understand these large amounts of money. You take a million dollars and you get this million-dollar idea in your head.

"But if you break it down and look at it, half of it is going to be gone between taxes and your agent. Then you've got to live. You say, 'This house costs $1 million. This house costs $500,000.' Nobody tells you how much property tax is going to be each year. Nobody talks about the upkeep."

That's where Arroyo gets into the fleeting part.

"That's the one thing I stress to these guys," he said. "I always say: 'You're a rock star in this finite amount of time with the name on the back of your jersey.' That's the greatest tool you have. Give an experience to your friends, bring them to the ballpark, have them watch batting practice, rather than just blowing money on things that just are going to be gone in a few years."

RELATED: Arroyo has work to do to make Reds' roster.

He's seen what happens when players blow through the money.

"I've played with guys who made anywhere between $5 and $20 million, and they call me every year and they need a $1,000 sponsorship for their softball team," he said. "I know guys who make $50 million and probably don't have a penny to their name. I know guys who made over $100 million who still have some money, but they're stressing.

"People don't realize they've got to live 10, 20, 30, 50, 60 years after this game is done. If you're a doctor or a lawyer, your profession will go as long as you want it to go. In baseball, it can end tomorrow with a line drive to the face. You might not ever have the ability to make six figures again, much less seven figures."

Arroyo's message to the young players is not to take on too much outside of baseball -- concentrate on your craft.

"I try to get these guys to simplify their life," he said. "The biggest thing is not to have the distractions. You're already going to have a distraction with a wife and a family. You don't want to add on to that."

Arroyo has lived his life this way. In his years with the Reds, he rented a small apartment in Mount Adams. He's extremely generous with his friends, but he's got enough of the $95 million he made in baseball that he could retire and do pretty much whatever he wanted.

Right now, he wants to play baseball -- even though he doesn't need the money.

"Can you imagine if I was in the his locker room at age 40 and I'm dependent on making this team for monetary reasons?" he said. "Not because of passion for the game? That totally changes the dynamic of how you can be at ease and relaxed out there. In sports, we talk about how the only way to maximize stuff is to be relaxed. If you're tense, things don't work as good.

"Can you imagine if the pressure of the world was on you? 'I have to make money this year, make this team or I'm going to be broke.' You're doing harm to yourself all across the board."

Arroyo signed a minor league deal with the Reds. He didn't even bother to ask what he might earn if he makes the Reds this year.

"I think it's the minimum," he said. "It doesn't matter. I'd play for free. It makes no difference. I've done well with my money. I've made a lot. I've saved a saved a lot. Everything I get above and beyond this is icing on top of the cake."

That's why Arroyo counsels the young players. He wants them to make the right decisions early so they'll be in the position he's in at the end of their careers.

"Because we don't think about these things early enough, a lot times guys fall into a trap," he said. "Even if they do well, you can look back on your career -- even a guy like me -- and say, 'If I'd done this, I could have been a little better.' But if you take on too much, you end up scrambling to play a few extra years in the game. 'I have to have a contract.' That's got to be a terrible, terrible feeling."