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Edinson Volquez Rumors
The Royals announced Tuesday that they have officially signed right-hander Edinson Volquez to a two-year contract with a mutual option for the 2017 season. The contract reportedly guarantees Volquez $20MM, including a $7.5MM salary in 2015 followed by $9.5MM in 2016 and a $3MM buyout on the $10MM mutual option.
A $20MM contract represents a win for Volquez and his representatives with the Wasserman Media Group — last week, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that Volquez was seeking precisely that figure. Volquez, 31, earned a two-year deal thanks to a strong season in Pittsburgh in which he posted a 3.04 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 192 2/3 innings, to go along with a 50.4% ground ball rate. His peripherals lagged behind his ERA, with figures of 4.20 for both his xFIP and SIERA, and the Pirates were a terrific fit for a pitcher like Volquez, thanks to their shift-heavy infield defense and their good framing tandem of Russell Martin and Chris Stewart, not to mention well regarded pitching coach Ray Searage. Volquez’s control, in particular, still is a weakness, with five straight seasons with BB/9 rates exceeding 4.0 before 2014.
That doesn’t mean the Royals overpaid, however, or that Volquez can’t successfully eat innings in Kansas City. His stuff is excellent, with a mid-90s fastball that at times ranged into the high 90s last year, to go along with a curveball that he used very effectively. Also, Volquez has managed to pitch at least 170 innings in each of the last three seasons despite his control issues. Heading into the offseason, MLBTR’s Zach Links projected Volquez would get two years and $18MM, only a bit less than he actually received.
While he may not replace James Shields in terms of production, Volquez figures to slot into the space that was previously occupied by “Big Game James.” He’ll join Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy and Jeremy Guthrie in manager Ned Yost’s rotation. While Volquez will undoubtedly miss Martin’s framing and the Pirates’ infield shifts, it’s also worth noting that he’s joining one of the best defensive clubs in baseball and will again call a pitcher-friendly park home, so there’s a good chance that he can pitch well enough to live up to his guarantee.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the deal was complete (Twitter links). SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo initially tweeted that the two sides were close. Heyman tweeted the final contractual details.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The latest salvo in Bryce Harper‘s grievance against the Nationals over his arbitration eligibility was fired yesterday when Harper failed to appear at NatsFest, the team’s annual fan convention. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post, “We’re disappointed he’s not here, but he chose not to be here because of the grievance.” Harper responded with a statement provided by his representatives and quoted by Wagner, “I have attended NatsFest each year and always enjoy my experience with the fans, but was unable to attend this year’s event due to matters out of my control. I look forward to next year’s NatsFest.” The grievance hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in New York. If Harper wins his grievance, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.5MM arbitration award for the outfielder (as opposed to the $1.5MM base his contract stipulates for 2015), which will create a larger platform for future arbitration earnings.
In other news and notes involving the National League:
- Jordan Zimmermann reiterated his desire to sign an extension with the Nationals, but only at the right price, reports CSNWashington.com’s Chase Hughes. “If it’s a fair value, like I have said all along, I would gladly sign,” said Zimmermann. “But at the end of the day, it’s gotta be something that’s fair and if it’s not, then I’ll be moving on.“
- The Marlins are not willing to trade either Henderson Alvarez or Jarred Cosart for a first baseman, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson also reports the Marlins have had more talks with Michael Morse in recent days and he represents the best realistic option to upgrade the position.
- The Marlins are listening to offers for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi; but, while the Pirates view him as a “terrific young pitcher” and “someone we’ll keep looking at,” club president Frank Coonelly says they are not close to bringing him to Pittsburgh, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer.
- In a separate Singer tweet, Coonelly also downplays the return of Edinson Volquez. “Two years for $20MM not far off for Volquez,” Coonelly said. “He could get that. It probably won’t be here.“
- The Cubs have met recently with Colby Rasmus and are one of several teams to show interest in him, reports Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes identified the Cubs as a potential landing spot for Rasmus back in September while the Orioles and Royals have also been linked to the free agent center fielder.
- With the elevation of Jeff Bridich to general manager, Rockies manager Walt Weiss has more independence in running the team with the front office no longer maintaining an offfice in the clubhouse and is more involved in player personnel decisions, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
The trust that Jon Lester has in Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer from their days together in Boston is singled out by Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan as the key reason why the lefty chose Wrigley Field as his next home. Here’s some news from around the NL Central…
- The Pirates were one of the finalists for Brandon McCarthy, MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes. The Bucs weren’t known to be connected to McCarthy in the offseason rumor mill, though they fit as a logical contender for his services. Even with Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett signed, Singer thinks the Pirates could still look to add starting pitching, such as re-signing Edinson Volquez.
- Other teams feel that the Reds will look to trade Zack Cozart now that they’ve acquired Eugenio Suarez, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link).
- With Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon respectively traded to the Marlins and Tigers, Reds GM Walt Jocketty told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon) that the team can start to explore other upgrades now that they’ve addressed their payroll concerns. “We’re in a better position to start looking at some other possibilities to improve our club — the hitter we’re looking for and some bullpen depth,” Jocketty said. “We’re close to where we need to be, [payroll-wise]. Now we can concentrate on filling some of the needs.”
- In an Insider-only post, ESPN’s Keith Law looks at the Reds‘ two pitching trades and feels the team got more from Detroit than they did from Miami. Law thinks Suarez is an improvement over Cozart and Jonathon Crawford could potentially be the Reds’ closer of the future.
- Kyle Lohse and Yovani Gallardo are two of several prominent Brewers entering the last year of their contracts, and MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy opines that the Crew could explore trading the two starters if they think Mike Fiers or Jimmy Nelson can be viable rotation options.
The Yankees are still working to address several needs, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the team is working to allocate limited budget space in so doing. Should New York go to a fourth year for Headley, the team’s interest would likely not go beyond $44MM to $48MM, Sherman says.
Were the team to strike a multi-year deal with third baseman Chase Headley, it may need to “bottom fish” to add a starter, says Sherman. Alternatively, then, the team could look to rely on Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela in the infield while looking to make a more significant addition for the rotation.
As for the rotation, the Yankees are disinclined to give even a third year to Brandon McCarthy, given his injury history, per Sherman. That could be a non-starter, of course. Otherwise, short-term options like Edinson Volquez are more likely. There remains a possibility of bringing back Hiroki Kuroda, Sherman adds.
Free agent starter Edinson Volquez is looking for a two-year, $20MM contract this offseason, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Volquez, 31, is coming off a strong season with the Pirates in which he pitched 192 2/3 innings with a 3.04 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 while also posting an excellent 50.1% ground ball rate.
Prior to the 2014 season, Volquez had struggled badly with his control, posting BB/9 rates of 4.0 or greater in his previous six seasons and leading the NL with 105 walks in 2012. His always-tantalizing stuff and good work in Pittsburgh should earn him a healthy deal, however — two years and $20MM isn’t at all out of line with the two years and $18MM MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted for Volquez in October. The Twins have shown interest in Volquez, and the Pirates would also reportedly like to retain him.
The Twins announced the hiring of longtime Orioles minor league coach Butch Davis as their first base coach yesterday, adding to their recent list of coaching additions. While they’ve drawn a bit of flak for keeping most of their hires in-house, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (Twitter link) that Minnesota reached out to recently dismissed Cubs skipper Rick Renteria about the bench coach vacancy (since filled by internal candidate Joe Vavra), but Renteria declined to interview. Similarly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the Twins wanted Delino DeShields to serve as their first base coach, but he took a position managing the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, as his ultimate goal is to manage in the Majors someday.
Here’s more on the Twins…
- GM Terry Ryan told reporters yesterday, including La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that Minnesota did not win the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang (Twitter link). There was some confusion as to whether the Twins or Rangers won the bidding, with some speculating that they made very similar bids. The point is moot, regardless, as the KIA Tigers did not accept the winning bid for their top pitcher’s services, as it was deemed too low.
- The Twins have interest in right-hander Edinson Volquez, reports Wolfson. Additionally, they’ve had conversations with agent Greg Genske, who represents both Francisco Liriano and Brett Anderson. Minnesota is expected to meet with Justin Masterson‘s agent next week at the Winter Meetings, and they met with CAA (the agency that represents Jake Peavy and Nori Aoki) at last month’s GM Meetings, Wolfson adds. However, there’s no real traction on either CAA client at this time.
- Wolfson also tweets that the Twins have made an official offer to Torii Hunter, who is expected to reach a decision soon. The Rangers are said to be pushing hard for Hunter, who reportedly prefers to sign with a contender. That makes a return to Minnesota seem doubtful.
- The Twins have given no indication that they plan to non-tender southpaw reliever Brian Duensing today, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Duensing, 31, is projected to earn $2.5MM in arbitration and was listed by MLBTR as a non-tender candidate.
The Phillies never made an offer for outfielder Yasmany Tomas, agent Jay Alou Jr. tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Alou said that the club was engaged throughout the process, but that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. gave the impression that he had to “clear salary” before he could put dollars on the table. “His hands were tied,” Alou said in reference to Amaro. For his part, Amaro said only that “it was clear the Diamondbacks valued him higher than we did.” The ownership group has not created any “impediments” to his baseball operations staff, he added.
More from the National League:
- With a line of quality pitchers queuing up behind Jon Lester and company, the Pirates are staying engaged with their own outgoing free agents, Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Dejan Kovacevic recently reported that the club hoped to return both hurlers, even after adding A.J. Burnett.
- Indeed, Pittsburgh is making clear to agents of other free agent starters that Liriano is their top priority on the rotation market, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports. Though the Bucs would stand to give up the sandwich pick they would receive were Liriano to sign elsewhere, he has been quite a valuable contributor to the team’s winning ways over the last two seasons.
- The Marlins are unlikely to lock down any new extensions before the Winter Meetings, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets, though that does not mean that the team is not making a legitimate effort to work out more deals. With offers on the table or soon to be delivered to several young players, the team appears to be making a push to follow the model that the Braves pursued last year.
- Bryce Harper and the Nationals are headed towards a grievance in December to resolve the long-lingering question whether his contract permits him to opt into arbitration, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. (To understand the background, read this post from last November.) Rosenthal wonders whether the Nats would be better served not fighting the point, if the club hopes to have a shot at extending Harper.
- As the Braves continue to weigh their trade options, the team is more likely to deal Justin Upton than to move both he and Evan Gattis, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. The team has still not ruled out a scenario in which both players are traded, though that would obviously create quite a void in the middle of the team’s lineup.
- Interestingly, the Braves had extended discussions earlier this offseason with the Astros about Gattis, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Atlanta wanted Houston to take a pairing of Gattis and the struggling B.J. Upton in a trade, but that involved too much payroll for the latter to stomach. The Braves expressed interest in both Dexter Fowler and Carlos Corporan in the talks. Rosenthal says that the original line of discussion faded, but that other talks involving Gattis could arise between the teams in the future.
The Diamondbacks won the Yasmany Tomas sweepstakes, signing the Cuban outfielder to a six-year, $68.5MM contract and drawing praise from some around the baseball world, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. One AL scout called the contract “a great deal,” since another AL scout told Piecoro that “most people thought it would cost between $80MM-$100MM” to sign Tomas. It’s possible that the Snakes were able to get a relative bargain, however, due to concerns that other teams had about Tomas’ defense and plate discipline, not to mention career numbers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional that fell well behind the totals posted by such stars as Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes or Yasiel Puig.
MLBTR wishes all our readers a Happy Thanksgiving, and here are some items from around baseball to go with your pumpkin pie for dessert…
- Pirates president Frank Coonelly tells Dejan Kovacevic of DKOnPittsburghSports.com that the team’s payroll “certainly can and I suspect will” top the $90MM mark in 2015. This works out to roughly $20MM in available funds by Kovacevic’s calculations, and “everything I’m hearing is that most, if not all, of that money will be committed to starting pitching,” with the Pirates hoping to re-sign both Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez.
- The Reds are looking for multiple “inexpensive Major League-ready players” in exchange for Jay Bruce, a rival scout familiar with the team’s demands told Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun. Cincinnati is known to be listening to offers for Bruce, though it could just be a case of due diligence rather than a legitimate desire to deal the outfielder.
- The Rule 5 Draft is coming up on December 11, and Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper lists some of the intriguing names that are likely or unlikely be picked in two weeks’ time. BA’s Matt Eddy, meanwhile, examines some of the key statistics and factors that led several prospects to be added to team’s 40-man rosters in advance of the draft.
- Chris Capuano said “there’s a lot of truth to” rumors he is interested in pitching in Japan next season, the veteran lefty told Casey Stern and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). “It piqued my interest back in 2006….we’re considering it,” Capuano said. The 36-year-old posted a 4.35 ERA, 2.47 K/BB and 7.5 K/9 over 97 1/3 IP in 2014, making 12 starts for the Yankees and 28 relief appearances for the Red Sox.
- The Mariners would be hard-pressed to deal starting pitching given their lack of rotation depth, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes, and thus a rumored Hisashi Iwakuma-for-Yoenis Cespedes deal doesn’t make much sense for the team.
- If GM Brian Cashman truly believes David Robertson “checks every box” for what’s expected from a Yankees closer, then the team should’ve re-signed Robertson by now, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News opines. The Robertson/Dellin Betances combo was a major strength for the Yankees last season, though Betances might not be ready to take over the closer’s role. Plus, as Feinsand argues, “who takes over the setup role if Betances moves to the ninth? Andrew Miller? Luke Gregerson? If you’re going to pay a free-agent reliever, why not spend on the one you’ve drafted and developed yourself?”
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.