The Pittsburgh Pirates need to add at least two starting pitchers this offseason, and ex-Pirate Edinson Volquez could be a potential fit.
The Major Leagues Baseball offseason is officially upon us. The time of the year for general managers to begin to improve their teams is here. And for Neal Huntington and the Pirates it all starts with starting pitching.
As things currently stand the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates’ starting rotation consist of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Chad Kuhl. However, after these three there are nothing but question marks. This leaves Huntington needing to address the rotation this offseason.
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The free agent starting pitcher market is very thin this offseason. Despite this, there is an ex-Pirates’ starting pitcher that is a free agent and could be a potential fit. That pitcher is Edinson Volquez.
After pitching for the Pirates in 2014, the now 33-year old Edinson Volquez spent the past two seasons pitching in Kansas City. However, the Royals declined his option at the end of the 2016 season. This made Volquez a free agent.
After having strong campaigns in 2014 and 2015, Volquez had a rough go of things in 2016. In 189 1/3 innings pitched Volquez averaged 3.61 BB/9 (his highest since 2013), 1.09 HR/9 (his highest since 2011), and just 6.61 K/9. This led to Volquez posting a 5.37 ERA, 4.57 FIP, and a 4.58 xFIP. Volquez also allowed far too much hard contact in 2016 as his hard contact rate (31.7 percent) was highest it had been since 2006.
Volquez’s one season in Pittsburgh came in 2014. And, for Volquez, it was a memorable one. He pitched a team high 192 2/3 innings and also led the team with a 3.04 ERA. However, his 4.15 FIP and 4.20 xFIP both indicated that he was due for some serious regression. Unfortunately for the Pirates, this regression came in the National League Wild Card Game when Volquez had his door’s blown off in an 8-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Personally, I have never been super high on Edinson Volquez. This is because at his best he is a slightly above average middle of the rotation starting pitcher, but most of the time he is a back end of the rotation starter. However, he still fits the role of one of the Pirates’ needs this offseason.
The Pirates need someone to slot into their number five starting pitcher role. Preferably, they would like someone who is a proven innings eater which Volquez is. The past five seasons Volquez has pitched at least 180 innings in four of them, and the one year he did not was 2013 when he still pitched in 170 innings. Additionally, he has proven he can be an effective pitcher at PNC Park and in the National League Central Division.
This offseason I could see Volquez accepting a one year contract worth 8-10 million dollars. And that is something I could see interesting the Pirates. Especially since Volquez would be a better number five starter option than someone like Jeff Locke or Steven Brault.
His 2017 Steamer projections have Edinson Volquez posting a 4.29 FIP, 4.24 xFIP, and a 1.9 WAR. I would take that all day long from my fifth starter. If the price is right, the Pirates should consider a reunion with Edinson Volquez. And this is coming from someone who is not much of a Volquez fan.