Edinson Volquez Agrees to Deal With Royals

The Kansas City Royals have agreed to a two-year contract with right-hander Edinson Volquez that will pay him a total of $20M. The deal is still pending a physical. The Pittsburgh Pirates got great value out of Volquez in 2014, signing him to a one-year, $5M deal. He posted a 3.04 ERA over 192.2 innings, making 31 starts and one relief appearance. That was after posting a 5.71 ERA in 2013 when he split the season between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The Pirates initially said they had interest in re-signing Volquez this off-season, but those talks died down after they signed Francisco Liriano.

John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.

When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.

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The Pirates signed Corey Hart. Hopefully it’s a minor league deal. He is worth a shot!!!


Good Luck Eddy, sorry to see you go, just no room at the inn right now.


Volquez is legit. KC will likely be very happy w/ their $20mil investment. i wish eddy all the best – he pitched his ass off for Pgh in ’14.


I wish volquez all the best, I wonder though if he is going to send searage a percentage of his check for resurrecting his career. My guess is probably not.


Before we are too tough on Volquez let’s remember, based on what management said, that if they had been unable to re-sign Liriano their first SP target would have been Volquez.

dr dng

Like I have said before, I just liked watching Volquez pitch. I thought he was a gentleman and athlete. He was always so complementary of his defense and his teammates. He was just priced out of our range and need. We all wish him the best unless we have to face him next season.


The Anderson signing made this a no brainier – Very happy for EV – but I think the Bucs will not miss him. Compton can deliver his numbers – could have last year


Cumpton needs a better breaking pitch and an actual change up. As currently constructed he cannot turn the order over, and struggles against LHHs. I think he could certainly develop one or the other and become better, but you can say that about every pitcher.


Without looking at stats for reference and only relying on memory, I have thought that Cumpton, compared to most pitchers, doesn’t throw many secondary pitches. I couldn’t agree with you more, for at least the last year, that he badly needs a better breaking pitch (slider, etc) and/or change up. It was my thought that if he had one or two other decent pitches which were good enough for him to use more often he would be a much better pitcher – like a guy who could break out as an above average mlb pitcher. My concern is that he has been around for awhile and undoubtedly the Pirates have tried to develop another good pitch or two for him and apparently it has not happened yet. Didn’t Florida change Morris’ approach after we traded him away? In other words, is the problem that Cumpton cannot execute a better breaking pitch and/or slider, or does the pitching staff need to be more creative in his case? I don’t know the answers to the foregoing questions – I wonder if anyone else has any information or insight along those lines?


Many believe that a good big league breaking ball is difficult, if not impossible, to simply teach. Theory being that generating spin the defines the quality of break has more to do with a pitcher’s inherent wrist action and/or strength instead of simply grip and arm action. Just not a ton of good examples of guys who all the sudden start throwing a 60 breaking ball at Cumpton’s experience level.

When Morris went to Florida, he essentially stopped throwing a four seamer and jacked up his cutter/sinker usage.


Good to know nmr, thanks for the info.. would it be true that if a pitcher owns one good breaking pitch, a second brraking pitch such as the knuckle curve can be taught? Given that the pitcher has the ability to spin the ball


I don’t even know what to think when looking at Cumpton’s PitchFX. Appears he dropped his four-seamer in 2014, not that he threw it a lot in 2013. But his slider is slower than his changeup? That’s weird.

Anyway, not sure he really needs a curve other than a “show-me” used judiciously. What he probably does need is more separation in velocity between his 2-seamer and change up. And maybe more bite on the 2-seamer as it looks like batters were on to it at a better clip in 2014 than 2013.

I don’t think the guy is much more than a low 4/high 5 potential, but I think he’s got a good head and attitude and at least a little upside to make him worthwhile to keep around.

Lukas Sutton

Cumpton is a great example of a guy that knows how to pitch, but doesnt have great stuff at all. Worth keeping around, but as you say isnt a high upside option.

Frank Restly

Found some interesting data comparing Cumpton / Volquez pitch selection and velocity:





You are probably right once Cumpton gets better throwing his secondary pitches (change up, slider) for strikes. Looking at Cumpton’s velocity numbers, he added velocity toward the end of last season:



Cumpton needs to learn Morton’s two seamer.

R Edwards

I wish him well and I am glad the Pirates didn’t pay him that kind of money – too risky given his entire career and body of work.

That being said, I suspect he is going to have a long season in the AL.

Frank Restly

Not sure why you would jump to that conclusion. Volquez started his career with the Rangers and pitched a total of less than 100 innings in three years (middle relief?) before he was traded to Cincinatti. Tommy John surgery got him in his second season with Cinci, and since then he has bounced around.

Maybe you are thinking of Liriano who alternated good and bad seasons with the Twins before landing in Pittsburgh.


Hey Neal & Frank, it’s been several hours since we started normalizing relations, so where’s the plan for our new Cuban Baseball Academy?

Get on that, dammit.


Nutting spent all that money on a new lift at 7 Springs….remember ?


When they do open it, I’m there. With a pitcher of Cuba libre and a Cohiba.


Now THAT is a plan !


He pitched well last year, happy that transitioned into stability for him.

Also glad the Bucs didn’t push the payroll close to $100M just to retain him.

The rotation isn’t lights out, but it’s good enough to compete, and that money can be much better spent, if necessary, at the trade deadline.


The Pirates should have offered that. I’ll miss that smile and that gold chain.


Volquez’s xFIP has been over 4.00 in each of the last four seasons. The major league average in 2014 was 3.74. Volquez’s WAR was 0.7. He isn’t close to a 2 year, $20M value.


Who should the royals have went for on the open market with their $20m? They have a need for a pitcher, how do they fill that need

Lukas Sutton

Dont sign Rios (because he just isnt all that good and their OF was fine) and go after McCarthy. Cost 2-3 million more over a few more years, but gets a guy with better periphs and is someone the fans might actually see as a sign of wanting to win. Volquez and Rios leave much to be desired overall.


At the rate this off-season is going $20 million, means Volquez needs, what 3.0 WAR over two years to equal that contract. RA-9 WAR has Volquez at 3.0 this season bWAR 2.5.

If Volquez keeps the walks down continues to pitch to contact in front of the best defensive team in baseball over the last two years, ( and it really isn’t close), he could possibly continue to out pitch FIP and equal that contract. Perez won’t steal him many strikes but he rates well in the other defensive areas. I wouldn’t have given it to Volquez, but the world isn’t exactly a certain place.


Verlander put up a pretty lousy season with both ERA and xFIP over 4. Yet he was worth 3.3 WAR.

Some other xFIPs over 4 who achieved 2+ WAR: Lohse, Collmenter, Cosart, Dickey, Buchholz, Tillman, Harang, Vargas.

Not suggesting ERA or xFIP is the only factor, but the above should be adequate proof a 4 ERA does not automatically limit someone from being a 2 WAR pitcher.


Fangraphs uses FIP, adjusted for ballpark, to calculate WAR. Verlander’s adjusted FIP was 3% better than league average. Volquez’s adjusted FIP was 16% worse than league average.


Since you used ERA and xFIP in your first post, that’s what I responded with. But if you want to go with just FIP, there’s five starters who did 1.5 WAR or better with FIP higher than Eddie. And 1.5 makes it an even contract.

Again, the peripherals don’t doom Volquez to 0.7 WAR. He could be worth more than that. Vargas had worse #s with the Angels, got a 1.5, and a year in KC turned him into a 2.6. Cut his walks down by almost 1 per 9IP. They’ve got a good defense and maybe some other secret sauce too.


Agree 100%. STEAMER projects Eddie to put up 0.8 WAR next year, with AJ putting up 1.6, and Worley putting up 1.2. It never made sense to sign Volquez, when Worley is actually better than him.


Yes. The Pirates got more than anybody could have dreamed from Volquez, but I expect him to go back to a 4.00 ERA next season.


His era will finish under 3.5 if he stays healthy.. he’s a ground ball pitcher with a top defense behind him.. he’s got salvie as his new catcher.. strike outs are overated

Lukas Sutton

Most of the “great” part of the KC defense resides in the OF. They have a good defense, but their IF defense isnt really all that great. They also added Rios, which doesnt help. He has to hope his rather high strand rate continues or he will see closer to 4 ERA, which isnt really bad overall.


Good point. . If he remained a bucco his era would remain low.. I do anticipate him having more strike outs in kc, relying less on his infield defense

Lukas Sutton

Problem is, he has not been an effective SO pitcher in the last 3-5 years. He would be wise to continue what he did in PIT and hope the defense helps him as much as it did.


As long as the walks don’t get the best of him, there’s a decent chance of him having that kinda success.

But I don’t think strikeouts are overrated. A strikeout almost never results in a positive outcome for the offense. A fair percentage of balls put into play do. Over the course of a season, that kinda thing will add up to a lot of extra runs given up.

And besides: strikeouts aren’t overrated; strikeouts are fascist– Crash Davis.


Lol. Strike outs result in unnecessarily high pitch counts.. which is good for the offense against all but a handful of teams with dominant bullpens 4-5 deep


Walks drive pitch counts, not strikeouts. And the relationship between walks and strikeout is very weak, almost non-existent.



Lukas Sutton

The notion that strikeouts dont drive up pitch counts is just false, and Pirate fans have seen it play out. A guy can have great stuff, but only go 6 innings if he is striking out a ton of guys. At times, being too reliant on Ks can actually take you out of a game an inning earlier than a guy who mixes Ks with other forms of outs. Tough to have a decent amount of 2-3 pitch at bats if you rack up 12 Ks.


It is false if you ignored the information above.

Lukas Sutton

So you dont think that strikeouts at all raise pitch counts? Because the above information doesnt refute that.


On average with tools available in 2009 when that article was written yes.. but sense then there’s been a huge increase in this thing called the defensive shift, check it out.. the buccos have proven they can turn groundballs into outs at a significantly better rate. . That would obviously lead to less pitches to get the out then what was assumed in your article as well. Then of course, leading to a lower pitch count


I’m not trying to have a saber vs non-saber debate rolled into the pedro hr debate.. the term over rated doesn’t mean zero value.. I’m an actuary so I know/understand/value statistics. . An evaluation of a pitcher doesn’t begin and end with how many strikouts and walks they average.. the reason why the buccos starting pitchers as a group continue to out perform their projections is due to the rudimentary way these stats are calculated. . Strike outs, like home runs, have lots of value..


Well you seemed to want to have that discussion for some time.

I’m just not sure what you point is, the Pirates have not significantly beat there FIP measures over the last two years as compared to the rest of the league.


The individuals who constructed and popularized FIP understand the limitations, certain pitchers can control contact better than average, and strand runners better than average and FIP WAR is not completely correct, but it is likely closer to looking at actual talent than RA-9 WAR.

As for Volquez like I wrote below he could maintain some of the gains, especially if he keeps walks down. However the .263 BABIP is likely to regress, as is the .242 BABIP with men on base, and when those regress so will the ERA FIP gap, just as it happen to Locke in 2013.


David manel actually just recently did a write up on this sight demonstrating what my point is


I’m familiar with the piece, I think the larger take away is that walks aren’t as detrimental in a system attempts to limit extra base hits.

I’m just don’t think it is sound to extrapolate the concept to the league as a whole. There are other ways to prevent runs at a better rate than overall strikeouts and walks would suggest. The Athletic have collected fly ball pitchers in a spacious park, the Reds combine quality infield defense with several pitchers who hold runners well, then there is the Twins they pitch to contact behind a terrible infield with predictable results.


Thank you.. that was my point.. there are better ways to prevent runs then strikeout & walks suggest.. strike outs are over rated


Aren’t you a bucco fan? Do you pay attention to their game plan at all? Do you hear hurdle speak to three pitches or less? I’m not sure you realize that striking out a guy with less than three pitches is a very difficult task.. therefore the front office has determined that the desired result is to put the ball in play on the ground with one pitch


The Pirates focus on acquiring a pitchers with specific skills and making those pitcher better in the aggregate. However to assume strikeouts are over-rated is a fallacy of composition. The Twins tied the Pirates with the lowest pitches/plate appearance but had the second highest ERA only to Colorado.

If you are trying to distinguish between pitchers, looking at walks and strikeouts is by far better than evaluating them by runs or ERA because walks and strikeouts are more repeatable and thus a better indication of a pitchers overall talent. Isn’t that the purpose of stats to judge the individual player?

Looking at runs allowed or ERA is only telling me about a pitchers past performance within that past team, + luck and sequencing. If I want to know what a pitcher did in the past I look at ERA, if I want to know what he is likely to do in the future FIP/xFIP are better.


Sabr 101. .


So now we have an entire staff pitching with this philosophy to varying degrees. . It seems silly to measure their success with a k/bb ratio when k’s aren’t usually optimal in their game plan


K’s are generally a sign of dominance…especially when control is very good. When prospects are being measured in the minors a 3:1 k:bb ratio is a sign a pitcher is extremely dominant…and when you do it in the majors you are elite. No one worries about pitch counts when you can k 3 per every 1 walk. Rickster, why so combative?


Lol.. cause I’m ticked we didn’t get Volquez. . I guess it came across in my defense of him. Haha.. sorry if it did.. andrew has great insight and I learn a lot from his contributions. . No disrespect intended


I like Volquez but don’t love him. He would have been nice to have but I think when you compare the 13 mil a year for Liriano to 10 mil a year for Volquez, Liriano looks like a bit of a bargain and Eddie a little overpriced. I am willing to spin the wheel and bet on all their other options to replace 80-90% of EV’s value…if not more.


Yes. Strikeouts are not a panacea. But they are significant. I’d say they’re not overrated, they’re appropriately-rated.


Fip/xfip/war ( everything used to compare) are all significantly driven by k/bb.. way overrated in my book


WAR is calculated differently depending on which source you get it from.

FIP and xFIP are not driven by K/BB ratio. Three times the number of BB’s minus two times the number of K’s contribute to the numerator of the statistic.


Strikeouts are outs 99.7% of the time (sometimes Tony Sanchez is behind the plate,) when your job is to prevent runs outs are valuable.


Hello mr obvious


Well it would Logically follow then that outs are overrated.


Only in your world partner

Frank Restly

Wonder what the Pirates offered him?


They will regret not signing him.

Lukas Sutton

AJ is a rather solid bet to be just an overall better pitcher than Eddy, and at a cheaper price. We upgraded at a cheaper cost. Volquez greatly benefited from our defense and a rather unsustainable strand rate.


Doubtful that the Bucs will have any regrets missing out on this bad deal Volquez has been a mediocre pitcher his whole career. Pitched in extraordinarily good luck this year, but that is unlikely to happen again. Since 2009, his FIP is 4.35 and his WHIP is a poor 1.44.

Look for an ERA of about 4.50 this year and next, plus a WAR below 1.0.


I thought so too. Until hearing Morton could be ready for the start of the season. No point in having 6 starters with no minor league options. No point in signing Volquez.

Andy Prough

Will they regret not paying him about as much as Burnett, Cole, Locke, and Worley combined?

It would seem like $10 million for Volquez might not go over so well in that clubhouse. No way I’m paying him more than Burnett, and then asking Burnett to pitch in front of Volquez in the rotation. And with Morton back, Volquez would probably have to go to the bullpen. You willing to pay him $10 million to sit in the bullpen?


Bullpen? Morton, Worley, Locke, and Burnett should all start the season in Altoona.


Uh-huh. That’s a reasonable assessment.


Good for him. Such is the price of an MLB pitcher in 2015. It’s only going to get steeper.


I hope he gives Jim Benedict and Ray Searage a healthy tip, or at least a Christmas present or something.

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