Edinson Volquez Rumors

Free Agent Profile: Edinson Volquez

Last year, the Pirates gave Edinson Volquez a one-year, $5MM deal and he wound up making that look like a smart investment.  This year, we should see more interest in the right-hander, resulting in a more lucrative deal coming his way.

Strengths/Pros  

Volquez did a good job of rebuilding his value in a contract year. The 31-year-old pitched to a 3.04 ERA — his best figure ever, topping even his breakout 2008 campaign.  Volquez also turned in a career-low walk rate of 3.3 BB/9, which was his first sub-4.0 effort.  His 192 2/3 innings of work was his second-best career total, topped only by his 196 innings in the aforementioned 2008 season.  Volquez threw his fastball at 93.1 mph in 2014, right in line with his career average of 93.4 mph and the 93.6 mph at which he was clocked in ’08.  Plenty has changed about Volquez the last six years, but he has aged well in those departments.  "<strong

Throughout his career, Volquez has been able to induce ground balls more often than your average hurler.  His career ground ball percentage of 48.5% is strong and his 50.4% rate in 2014, against a league average of 44.8%, was even better.  As a result, Volquez isn’t terribly home run-prone.  He has a career 0.94 HR/9 rate with a sharper 0.79 HR/9 showing this past season.

Volquez threw his fastball at an average of 93.1 mph this year, right in line with his career average of 93.4. That compares favorably to some of the other free agent starters on his tier, including A.J. Burnett (91.7 mph in 2014), Dan Haren (87.6), Aaron Harang (88.8), and Ryan Vogelsong (90.4)

Weaknesses/Cons  

On the surface, Volquez’s ERA indicates that he enjoyed a career renaissance in Pittsburgh this season, perhaps thanks to the tutelage of well-respected pitching coach Ray Searage and the quality pitch framing of catchers Russell Martin and Chris Stewart.  A deeper look shows that while Searage’s sage advice may have given Volquez a boost, his all-around performance was largely the same as the past few years.

Volquez’s walk rate did drop in 2014, but his 6.5 K/9 was a noticeable step back from his previous career average of 8.4 K/9, all but negating the drop in free passes.  His xFIP of 4.20 shows that his ERA was probably lower than it should have been and also indicates that he was largely the same pitcher we knew before but with better fortune.  In each of the previous three seasons, Volquez has posted xFIPs of 4.08, 4.20, and 4.07 while turning in ERAs of 5.71, 4.14, and 5.71.   The veteran’s .263 BABIP tells a similar story and leads one to believe that the Pirates’ defense helped out quite a bit.  You wouldn’t know it from his ERA, but the advanced stats say that Volquez performed about as well this season as he did in 2013, when he was DFA’d by the Padres near the end of the year.

Personal  

Volquez was born in Barahona, Dominican Republic.  Early in his career, you might recall him being billed as “Edison Volquez”.  As Amy K. Nelson of ESPN.com detailed in a 2008 profile, he later discovered that his birth certificate had his name as “Edinson” and asked the Rangers to update his spelling on all of their material.

Volquez earned the nickname of “Pedrito” or “Little Pedro” in the Dominican Republic for his pitching prowess which reminded many of Pedro Martinez, Nelson wrote.  “He’s in love with Pedro,” said former teammate Francisco Cordero. “He sees Pedro like he’s a god.”

Many counted Volquez out after his tumultuous 2013 season, but the Pirates saw a tremendous opportunity in the veteran starter. Prior to the Pirates’ Wild Card game against the Giants this year, manager Clint Hurdle was quick to praise Volquez for his work ethic, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes.

He’s a visual learner, number one,” Hurdle said. “He’s really good when you can tape him and show him. He would grasp on that way. He spent endless hours on reviewing delivery dynamics from every place he’s been.”

Market  

In late September, Volquez stated his desire to re-sign with the Pirates, crediting Bucs coaches with making him a better pitcher.  At the same time, he made it known that he doesn’t want to sign another one-year deal.

You always want to sign for more than one year,” he said, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Especially now that I’m 31 years old, I’d like to sign with someone for two or three years and stay a little bit longer.”

If Volquez finds a lucrative two- or three-year deal on the open market, it’d be tough to imagine the Pirates matching it given their financial limitations and stated desire to try and retain catcher Russell Martin.

MLBTR’s own Brad Johnson recently speculated that a return to the Rangers could be a possibility for Volquez as they could be in the market for veterans to supplement the back end of their rotation.  Jeff Todd, meanwhile, brought up the Marlins as a possibility since Miami probably won’t spend on the top-shelf pitchers.  I would add the Astros, Rockies, Phillies, and D’Backs as clubs that could see Volquez as an affordable addition who can turn in 180-190 innings of work.

Expected Contract

Volquez is one of several mid-level starters available this winter, but his turnaround this year (whether legitimate, perceived, or a mix of both) could make him a preferred option over some of the alternatives.  Volquez won’t be rated on the same tier as the likes of Hiroki Kuroda and Jason Hammel, but he compares favorably to other available back-end starters like Aaron Harang and Ryan Vogelsong, in part due to his age.  I recently predicted that Harang would net a two-year, $14MM deal this offseason and I expect Volquez to top that without much trouble.

Volquez is gunning for a multi-year deal and I think he’ll be able to find it, even if it’s not in Pittsburgh.  I predict that Volquez will land a two-year, $18MM deal this offseason.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images.


Volquez Hopes To Re-Sign With Pirates, Seeks Multi-Year Deal

Pirates starter Edinson Volquez is interested in re-signing with the Pirates as a free agent, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The 31-year-old righty is also interested in achieving a multi-year deal in the coming offseason.

Certainly, Volquez has made good on the one-year, $5MM deal he signed with the Pirates before the season. He has worked to a 3.15 ERA over 185 2/3 frames, easily his most productive output since his emergent 2008 season. That is a factor in Volquez’s desire to return to Pittsburgh. “I think I signed in the right place with the right coaches,” said Volquez. “They made me a better pitcher this year. So, I’d like to stay here.”

On the other hand, Volquez made clear that he hopes to parlay those numbers into a multi-year commitment. “You always want to sign for more than one year,” he said. “Especially now that I’m 31 years old, I’d like to sign with someone for two or three years and stay a little bit longer.”

It remains to be seen what level of interest the Pirates have in a reunion. Ultimately, if Volquez finds other clubs willing to plunk down a significant guarantee over two or three years, it is hard to see the Bucs beating the market. As stellar as Volquez’s bottom line has been in 2014, he has succeeded despite a middling K/BB rate of 6.3 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. With a .263 BABIP also playing a role in the outcomes, ERA estimators see little difference in Volquez’s performance as against recent years, when his earned run numbers came out less favorably.


NL Central Links: Maldonado, Volquez, Walker, Cubs

The Pirates and the Brewers found themselves in the midst of controversy over the weekend as the result of a benches-clearing brawl started by a verbal exchange between Gerrit Cole and Carlos Gomez. However, Martin Maldonado was also involved in the scuffle, landing a punch on Travis Snider, and ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that Maldonado will be suspended for five games and fined $2,500 (Twitter links). Maldonado, who is earning $502K this season, will end up losing a little more than $16K as a result of the suspension and fine, which translates to roughly three percent of his salary. The official announcement of all suspensions resulting from the brawl is expected today, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Here’s more from the NL Central…

  • MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince examines Edinson Volquez‘s strong start with the Pirates and wonders if he is the next successful reclamation project for pitching coach Ray Searage and special assistant to the GM Jim Benedict. Castrovince runs down many of the techniques that Searage and the Pirates have gone through with Volquez to improve his command and mechanics. He also writes that Francisco Liriano played a large role in Volquez signing with Pittsburgh, as Liriano heavily recruited his fellow Dominican to join the Bucs, telling him it was a perfect place to rebuild his career. (In addition to Liriano, both A.J. Burnett and Mark Melancon have experienced tremendous turnarounds upon arrival in Pittsburgh.)
  • Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review breaks down Neil Walker‘s continually improving approach at the plate, noting his increased contact rates and decreased chase rates over the past few years. Sawchik wonders if Walker’s approach has him on the cusp of emerging as a star-caliber second baseman.
  • Former Cubs coach Dave McKay spoke with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times and said that both he and former manager Dale Sveum were surprised by their dismissals after two years, as president Theo Epstein had said from the beginning that the coaching staff wouldn’t be evaluated based on performance. Still, McKay praised the organization and Epstein’s rebuild, stating that he had no hard feelings toward the club and praising them for retaining pitching coach Chris Bosio and catching coach Mike Borzello. McKay, a Phoenix-area resident, caught on as a coach with the Diamondbacks this offseason.


NL Notes: Niese, D’backs, Pirates, Marlins, Dodgers

Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday

Elsewhere in the National League:


Pirates Notes: First Base, Burnett, Volquez

The Pirates need to address their vacancy at first base, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. The Bucs find themselves without a first baseman (or, at least, without a lefty to platoon with Gaby Sanchez) in part because there wasn't much on the market — Castrovince suggests that, given that they weren't likely to sign Mike Napoli, their next-best option was likely Corey Hart, who has had serious knee issues. The Pirates have also explored the trade market, but to no avail so far. Andrew Lambo might be an in-house option, but he comes with question marks. The Athletics' recent success shows one way to win as a small-payroll team is to avoid big holes, and right now, the Pirates may have one. Here are more notes on the Bucs.

  • Days like today, when Clayton Kershaw signs for $215MM, put the plight of a small-market team in perspective, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted (via Twitter). In 1996, Kevin McClatchy bought the Pirates — the entire franchise — for $95MM, or about $150MM in 2014 dollars.
  • Biertempfel also relays bits from Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage's interview earlier today on MLB Network Radio with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden. Searage reiterates that he thinks A.J. Burnett is likely to retire. Searage also says the Pirates are "excited" to have gotten Edinson Volquez, and says he plans to "go back to basics" with Volquez's delivery (Twitter links).

Pirates Sign Edinson Volquez

FRIDAY: The Pirates have officially announced the signing.

WEDNESDAY: The Pirates have agreed to terms with right-hander Edinson Volquez on a one-year, $5MM contract, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Volquez is represented by the Wasserman Media Group.

Volquez-Edinson

Buying low on Volquez continues a trend for the Pirates, who have picked up A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and Mark Melancon via trade or free agency in recent years when each was coming off a poor season. The 30-year-old Volquez was released by the Padres last season after posting a 6.01 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 142 1/3 innings. He looked better in a brief, 28 1/3 inning cameo with the Dodgers, pitching to a 4.18 ERA with a 26-to-8 K/BB ratio.

Volquez's 4.07 xFIP was significantly lower than his 5.71 ERA on the season — a commonality that exists between he, Burnett, Liriano and Melancon at the time of their acquisition by the Pirates.

Volquez will join Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and the recently extended Charlie Morton in the Pirates' rotation. That seems to fill Burnett's spot in the rotation, suggesting that perhaps he's leaning toward retirement and the Pirates have moved on in favor of a cheaper option with similarly high upside. Back in 2008, Volquez finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting when he posted a 3.21 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 196 innings. Control has always been an issue for Volquez, but his fastball velocity has typically remained strong. After averaging 93.6 mph on his fastball from 2008-12, he averaged 92.5 mph in 2013.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


NL Central Rumors: Boggs, Cubs, Pirates, Burnett

The Cubs are among the clubs with interest in free agent pitcher Mitchell Boggs, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.  The Phillies, Indians, Mariners, and Mets are also in on him.  The Rockies non-tendered the right-hander after a subpar 2013.  Here's more from the NL Central…

  • According to a club source, the Pirates' deal for Edinson Volquez won't preclude them from re-signing A.J. Burnett, tweets Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • A rival exec says that the one-year, $5MM pact for Volquez makes sense, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The exec says that Volquez boasts a Francisco Liriano-type profile with his strikeout rate and ability to induce groundballs.
  • Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (on Twitter) wonders if the Volquez deal could hamstring Pittsburgh somewhat financially in their effort to re-sign Burnett if he calls for a $10-12MM commitment.
  • The Cardinals signed right-hander Angel Castro for bullpen depth, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Castro was added to the Cardinals' 40-man roster, so it's a major-league deal.  Castro spent last season with the Dodgers' Triple- A affiliate, posting an ERA of 3.48 with 7.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 19 starts and six relief appearances.

West Notes: Hamilton, Dodgers, Volquez, Suzuki

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark turned to executives, scouts, and other baseball people to try and figure out what has gone wrong with Josh Hamilton since he joined the Angels.  While some expressed doubt over whether he can rebound, GM Jerry Dipoto said that he's confident that his sizable investment will pay off.  "I still believe in Josh's physical ability. I still believe in the player. … And we've seen signs, over the last three weeks [as Hamilton has put up a .329/.414/.539 slash line over a 19-game stretch], that he's getting back to doing the things that Josh Hamilton does," the GM said.  Here's more out of the AL and NL West..

  • The Dodgers signed Edinson Volquez shortly after he was cut loose by the Padres, but there were plenty of other suitors.  The pitcher says that he chose L.A. over the Reds, Blue Jays, Orioles, Phillies, and "a couple more" teams, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  Volquez added that he's willing to start or relieve for the Dodgers.
  • Ken Gurnick of MLB.com (via Twitter) notes that even though Don Mattingly said that Volquez would come out of the bullpen for the Dodgers, he was seen taking batting practice with the starting pitchers.
  • Kurt Suzuki is glad to be back with the A's and the feeling is mutual within the organization.  Manager Bob Melvin says that one advantage of reacquiring Suzuki is that he won't need a whole lot of time to get acquainted with the Oakland pitching staff as other backstops would, writes Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com.

Dodgers To Sign Edinson Volquez

Shortly after it was reported that the Dodgers had interest in Edinson Volquez, they went out and made it a reality.  Volquez and the Dodgers have agreed on a major league deal, pending a physical and other details, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

The Dodgers took interest in Volquez just hours after the Padres requested release waivers on him.  The 30-year-old had a decent 2012 for himself, but he wasn't able to carry that momentum into 2013.  On the year, Volquez posted a a 6.01 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 27 starts for the Padres.  Volquez is a client of Wasserman Media Group, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.

The Dodgers are likely eyeing Volquez as a new option for the backend of the rotation.  Starter Chris Capuano has had a stronger year than Volquez in total (4.74 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9) but he has struggled in his last four starts.

The Padres on the hook for the remainder of his $5.73MM contract ($1.03MM), less the prorated portion of the minimum salary.  Buster Olney of ESPN.com first reported that the Dodgers were interested in signing Volquez.


Dodgers, Phillies Interested In Edinson Volquez

The Padres requested release waivers on pitcher Edinson Volquez earlier today but it doesn't sound like he'll be unemployed for long.  The Dodgers have serious interest in signing Volquez given Chris Capuano's struggles, sources tell ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter).  Meanwhile, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says that they have discussed the former All-Star internally, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.

For the Dodgers, Volquez could be plugged in as the No. 5 starter in place of Capuano as they gear up for the postseason.  Capuano, 35, has a 6.98 ERA across his last four starts and has struggled with consistency all year long.  The Phillies obviously aren't going anywhere in 2013, but they could plug Volquez into their rotation and evaluate him as an option going forward.  Volquez hasn't been terribly sharp in 2013, as evidenced by his 6.01 ERA on the year with 7.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 27 starts.