Throughout the 2011-2012 off-season, Kevin Creagh will be looking at players that have been rumored to be non-tender or trade candidates, based primarily off of MLB Trade Rumors’ Off-Season Outlook series. The review isn’t to suggest that the players are being pursued by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The purpose of the series is to explore the potential options on the market to see who might be a good fit for the 2012 roster.
Continuing on with the series of posts related to trade targets from the potential non-tendered player pool, my search has led me to look at starting pitching. Perhaps you may have heard that the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to not pick up Paul Maholm’s $9.75 million option for the year 2012. I know… it didn’t garner much traction around here, either.
This coupled with the hip labrum surgery to Charlie Morton (who may not be ready for Opening Day) and the potential non-tendering of Ross Ohlendorf has led to some consternation about how the Pirates will fill the rotation in 2012. Perhaps Chris Volstad could be part of that solution. Volstad was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 1st round of 2005. An interesting side note is that if the Pirates were to acquire Volstad, he would be the 5th first rounder from the 2005 draft to have been in the Pirates organization at some point (Jeff Clement, Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Thompson, Craig Hansen were the other 4).
Volstad stands 6 foot 8 inches tall, but interestingly is not that hard of a thrower. His fastball sits 90-91 mph over his career. I’m always amazed when pitchers that size can’t unlock the leverage they possess to get it into the mid-90’s.
Volstad will be entering arbitration for the first time this off-season, so like Mike Aviles in the previous post the Pirates could potentially control Volstad for 3 years. Volstad will be 25 years old during the 2012 season, indicating that his best days may still be ahead of him. During their Offseason Outlook series, Major League Baseball Trade Rumors (MLBTR) estimated his potential arb-1 salary to be $2.6 million.
In 2011, Chris Volstad took the ball for 29 starts and pitched 165-2/3 innings, so he’s not a potential workhorse at this point. He had a K/9 of 6.36 and a BB/9 of 2.66, but was extremely homer prone with a rate of 1.25 HR/9 (and a 15.5% HR/FB) which led to his unsightly 4.89 ERA. However, his FIP was 4.32 which meant that his defense behind him didn’t do him many favors — important for a ground ball pitcher like Volstad (52.3 GB%). Once you normalize his HR/FB rate, his xFIP was 3.64.
Last year his curve was his best pitch, as it was worth 1.49 extra runs per 100 pitches. Sadly, his fastball was his worst pitch at -1.57 runs/100 pitches. The good news is that his swinging strike percentage was the highest of his career at 7.9%.
If you’ve stuck with me through the torrent of numbers I unleashed on you, here’s the big picture on Volstad. The MIAMI Marlins are moving to a new stadium in 2012 and want to make a big splash with their fans. A recent news report has their opening day payroll climbing to $85 million potentially, up from the $57.7 million it was in 2011. The Marlins have been linked with every big name free agent on the market, including Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and C.J. Wilson. The Marlins may be looking to shed some salary in order to re-allocate it to a big ticket free agent. Potentially saving $2.6 million on Volstad to toss to Wilson, joined with Volstad’s heretofore so-so career, could be the impetus behind the possible non-tendering of Volstad.
Volstad is not a game-changer acquistion, but it could be appealing to obtain a 25 year old pitcher with 3 years of control left for the team. As with most of these acquistions for non-tender types, the return would only require a low-level player, most likely a reliever.