Edinson Volquez Rumors

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.


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.

Padres Place Volquez On Release Waivers

WEDNESDAY: San Diego has requested release waivers on Volquez, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (on Twitter).

SATURDAY: The Padres announced that they have designated Edinson Volquez for assignment.  In a related move, the club has recalled right-handed pitcher Brad Brach from Triple-A Tucson.

Volquez came to the Padres as part of five-player trade with Reds in December of 2011 that sent Mat Latos to Cincinnati.  Earlier this year, our own Steve Adams reflected on the deal and noted that Volquez was still believed to have upside when he came out west, but he followed up a decent year in 2012 with a rough 2013 campaign.

The 30-year-old has a 6.01 ERA on the year with 7.3 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 27 starts.  Despite his struggles this season, he picked up interest from clubs looking for a boost to the backend of the rotation in a thin trade market.  Volquez is set to hit the open market this winter.

You can keep track of Volquez and all of the other players in DFA limbo using MLBTR's DFA Tracker.

AL West Notes: Athletics, Rangers, Astros

After a look at the AL East earlier this morning, let's turn our attention out west …

  • While the Athletics are looking to buttress their 4-game division lead by buying at the deadline, John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reports that the club is finding supply to be limited. "Right now there are more buyers than there are sellers, more buyers than last year," says GM Billy Beane. Second base and starting pitching are the needs atop Oakland's wish list, team sources tell Hickey. In spite of the rotation's solid performance to date, Hickey says a trade could allow the team to utilize Brett Anderson in a bullpen role when he returns from injury. Citing Beane's apparent willingness to take on some relatively significant salary obligations, Hickey lists Jake Peavy (White Sox), Edinson Volquez (Padres), Bud Norris (Astros), and Kyle Lohse (Brewers) as potential targets.
  • After adding starter Matt Garza, the Rangers are looking at dealing for an outfielder, writes CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. Currently, says Heyman, Alex Rios of the White Sox is the most likely candidate for Texas. Heyman further notes, however, that the club could look to wait out the market in the hopes that players like Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies, Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, or the Giants' Hunter Pence become available, with Pence being the most likely among those to change hands. Texas has also considered Chris Denorfia of the Padres, Marlon Byrd of the Mets, and Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins, though Heyman notes that those options would rank below Rios in terms of impact. 
  • The Astros' Mark Appel is the highest-rated player from the recent amateur draft on MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo's updated Top 100 prospects list. As Mayo explains in his overview of the changes to the list, the top overall choice leads a group of eight recently-drafted players to crack the top 100. Houston is tied with the Red Sox with the most total players to make Mayo's list, with eight apiece. In terms of a simple weighting metric that Mayo calls "Prospect Points," the 'Stros have the most overall prospect value in baseball in high-end prospects, followed closely by the Twins. Though the Astros passed on top overall prospect Byron Buxton in last year's draft, its strategy enabled it to land the players currently checking in at number nine (Carlos Correa) and number sixty-five (Lance McCullers) instead.