With Liriano Signed, Attention Now Turned to Edinson Volquez

Just after the Pittsburgh Pirates came to an agreement with Francisco Liriano for three years, Jon Heyman is reporting that they are now turning their attention to re-signing Edinson Volquez. The Pirates already signed A.J. Burnett earlier this off-season, so they seem serious about solidifying their five-man rotation, which also includes Gerrit Cole and eventually Charlie Morton, once he returns from his hip surgery. Vance Worley looks like the most likely to fill that spot until Morton returns. If there are any updates on Volquez today, we will post them here.

  • Was just going thru Bucs game logs from last year. Other than Liriano’s final start where Bucs lost 10-6, the Bucs didn’t score more than 3 runs in any of his losses. He gave up zero runs in eight of his starts (Cole and Locke each did that only once, Worley 3x, Morton 4x, Volquez 7x).

    Volquez gave up 0 or 1 run in half his 32 starts. Bucs went 11-5 in those games (including two 1-0 losses). Some here will say he got lucky. But that’s pretty damned good no matter what. And also why he’s of continued interest.

    Most posters here tend to look at the overall body of work, whether a season or career or last three years or whatever. But the fact is that on any given day, starting pitchers are usually either on or not on. And when Volquez is on – at least 50% of the time last year – he is a dominant pitcher.

    • On Liriano – Burnett had the same thing happen to him 2 years ago (no run support). I bet you if you looked at Liriano’s logs he was matched up against the opposing team’s Ace more times than not.

      In 2013 Burnett averaged 3.73 runs per 9 innings of support (16th fewest among qualified starters in the NL).
      In 2014 Liriano averaged 3.38 runs per 9 innings of support (8th fewest among qualified starters in the NL). The amazing thing is that Burnett got less run support in 2014 (3.21 per 9) with Philly than he did with Pittsburgh in 2013.

      You might mention that 4 of Tony Watson’s 10 wins last year came during starts by Volquez – 1 courtesy of a blown save by Watson.

      As a final note, the biggest beneficiary of the Pirate’s offensive resurgence last year was Volquez – 4.35 runs of support per 9 innings.

    • Some of the best stuff in the game for sure. Fastball rated as top 3 best fastballs in the game, which is amazing.

  • Cubs will shop Wellington Castillo.I like Castillo. But I wonder what cost he would come at. i can’t believe The Cubs would shop him even with the Acquisition of Montero. Montero if I remember isn’t much of a defender is he?

  • Possible starters to add to the rotation.Anderson.Beachy,Johnson,Medlen,Morrow,Volquez,Vogelsong

  • I definitely think the Pirates will either sign Volquez back or find this years version of their reclamation project. 2012 Burnett 2013 Liriano,2014 Volquez. If we don’t get eddy I’d like to see a lefty brought in. It would be nice to have 2/3 lefty starters in the left handed friendly PNC

  • How about Beachy for 2 million per over two years? We pay for his rehab while banking that he replaces AJ in 16. Anything we get out of him in 15 is gravy and he gets some gauranteed $$$?

  • I think Volquez fits this tea better than anyone. Price/Production wise. Durable power-ish arm that would slot into the 3/4 slots

  • The continued interest in Volquez tells me that this organization is still highly influenced by traditional scouting. We knew their scouts loved him before signing, and it certainly seems as though he acquitted himself well with Searage & Co. No doubt they see the quality of the individual pitches and believe more is there.

    I also wonder if his market may be overstated a bit. Only a year removed from being a rather surprise recipient of a Major League contract, and you won’t find many teams that don’t understand the difference between ERA and FIP these days. Brandon McCarthy’s 2/$14m from a couple years ago would be the most I’d like to see him back at. And frankly, I really don’t like multiple years, period.

    • The one positive i see with multiple years is that it comes at a time when PIT can somewhat afford it. The team will still be young and his contract is unlikely to put a serious hamper on the finances, so the 2nd year risk would only be in that it blocks a young SP. But with AJ coming off the books next year, it leaves 1-2 spots for Taillon and co.

      • Plus it gives enough depth to let Taillon and Kingham develop longer

      • Can’t argue that. I find myself in a funny position as a guy who actually liked his signing last year with serious questions about continuing that relationship.

        • I think more than anything, I just don’t see much upside coming along with potentially $16m+ tied up in Burnett and Volquez. Maybe I’m greedy, but it seems like they’ve been able to get more with less.

          • Very true. AJ is still a decent value deal. Volquez isnt likely to be a great value deal, but does provide peace of mind knowing he is very low risk to see the DL.

          • If Volquez is more 2nd half Eddie than 1st half Eddie, the Bucs have themselves a great deal.

            A lot of things change of the course of a season. We’ve all seen that recently with Tony S./Diaz. For instance, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Joely does well enough with a promotion to Indy that Kingham becomes expendable if Kingham himself doesn’t pick it up and Taillon is good to go. And having a good Volquez around allows the Bucs to take their time in allowing these types of things to happen.

            Not to mention, a good Volquez would himself have trade value.

            Of course a bad Volquez… well, let’s not go there.

    • Or maybe we are the ones behind the times with pitching evaluations, using xFIP or SIERRA (prefer sierra, personally.) Volquez said repeatedly last year that he was working to pitch to contact, in lieu of going for strikeouts. But if xFIP is the stat that really “matters”, that wouldn’t make a lot of sense to do.

      Charlie over at bucsdugout recently wrote a great article called The Impact of the Pirates’ Run Prevention Plan a couple days ago. Its clear from listening to Volquez this year that he bought into that program, and pitched toward weak contact, opposed to pitching to maximize his xFIP (clearly, he still has his “stuff”.) And yet, here we are in the offseason, using xFIP to evaluate the guy anyway. Is there something management knows that we don’t?

      • There’s like half a dozen guys in all of baseball that have consistently shown the ability to induce weak contact such that it could be considered a repeatable skill, and Volquez isn’t one of them.

        Fans tried talking themselves into this logic with Jeff Locke, too.

        • If Eddie’s idea of “weak contact” is a screaming ground ball that Harrison can turn into a triple play, well, I’m buying in ๐Ÿ™‚

      • And by the way, hat tip to David Manel, the brains behind Bucs Dugout, for that article.

      • Pitch to contact is a philosophy the Pirates teach as floor of performance. Get guys to learn the ability to pitch to contact, preferably ground balls, and they’ll inherently throw more strikes and always have skills to fall back on when their stuff isn’t there.

        Pitch to contact pitchers are most certainly NOT an organizational philosophy. A true example of the would be the Terry Ryan Twins of the ’00’s. If the Pirates didn’t value guys that could put up K’s, then no reason to ever get Burnett or Liriano, nor draft Cole or Taillon.

        • So when Volquez says โ€œI used to be a strikeout guy, and I decided to go more contact right now, I wanted to stay in the game longer. Before I got in a lot of trouble when I tried to strike out everybody and I started walking peopleโ€, I am guessing you mean the main benefit of his approach was about throwing more strikes, walking less, rather than inducing some sort of ideal batted ball, yes?

          It’s just Volquez changed his approach a lot this year, cutting walks and cutting Ks, and while xFIP sees it as sort of a wash, both Volquez and Searage have credited the change in approach for the success in ’14. Are they just misinformed? Its very confusing.

          Obviously the Pirates value guys that can strike out batters, that’s clear looking at their draft strategy. However, I think they also put weight on, umm, “field depending” pitching, as shown by their strong desire for ground ball pitchers, which is something xFIP neutral, and doesn’t move siera much. I think that would make sense based on DAVID at Bucs Dugout’s fielding article, and we probably should expect the results of “fielding dependent” pitching to be above average here, particularly for ground ball pitchers. I wouldn’t argue that any more than a small portion of Volquez’s ERA vs. xFIP gap could be explained this way, but the Pirates as a team were .4 R/9 better than their xFIP in ’13 and .22 better in ’14, and I don’t see those numbers as necessarily an anomaly. Of course, none of this is exclusive to Volquez; I’m actually more a fan of spending money elsewhere.

      • Yeah David wrote that one, not Charlie.

  • The Pirates will sign Volquez because they have realized that upgrading the #5 spot in the rotation to be above average is way cheaper than upgrading from Liriano to Lester. The depth spots are where we are gaining wins.

    • Interesting way to look at it. Nobody said your #5 has to suck.

      • and noone can prove that locke or worley would be inferior to volquez. one decent year doesn’t make him a good pitcher anymore than one good year from worley or two decent half’s from locke do

    • Is Volquez an upgrade over the organization’s other internal options?

      • Yes, at this time, for 2015 and probably 2016

        • thats a very high opinion of Eddie V……not sure what it was based off. 2014 is one year

      • Over Locke and Cumpton? Almost for sure unless Locke suddenly overcomes his inconsistencies or Cumpton simply improves all his stuff drastically. Volquez, even in a non amazing year, is closer to a #4 type than purely a back end filler like Cumpton.

      • I think so by not by a lot over Locke. That said, it’s not about having a fixed 5 man where Volquez is worth an upgrade over Jeff Locke. It’s about having #6, #7, and #8 be decent starters since you know you’ll use them at some point in the year. And if Taillon / Kingham / Locke give you more depth than you have room for, I won’t be the first to complain.

      • I’d say so plus , if we sign Eddy ,our rotation is a lot stronger if /when Liriano or Cole have to be put on the shelf

      • I’d say that you have have Worley, Locke, Cumpton and Volquez each pitch 30 starts, at least 1 if not 2 of those three would outpitch volquez

    • I agree…you’re exactly right.

    • IMO Volquez would be our #3 starter. Burnett #4 and Worley/Locke #5

      • Ya I think that’s probably right at this point in Burnett’s career. My point was merely that in any of those scenarios, you’re upgrading whomever you’re putting at #5.

      • I’d go Worley #3, Volquez #4, Burnett #5.

        • If Burnett is facing a team’s #5 starter consistently next year, he could become the first Pirates 20 game winner since John Smiley in 1991.

    • Great insight!

      • But while that move helps you make the playoffs, or win the division, it doesn’t help you advance in the playoffs where only the top three spots matter. The Pirates need a “Madbum” at the top of the rotation. But they’ll never be able to buy one, only develop one internally.

  • Rather play Pimentel and see what he has than give Volquez 10m X3.

  • The pirates do not need another pitcher. Cole/Liriano/ Morton/ Burnett/ Worley is a pretty good rotation. I also think that the Pirates have enough depth options: Locke, Cumpton, Kingham, Sampson, Tallion, Pimental, Sadler, Lindblom; emergencies: Liz and Rodriguez.

    Although I would definitely choose Volquez over Morrow, Anderson, Medlen, Beachy
    -Volquez pitched 193.2 MLB innings in ’14 while Morrow, Anderson, Medlen and Beachy combined for 76.2

    • “You can never have enough starting pitching” – Everyone

    • I think Medlen is re-gabbing his 2nd TJ Surgery. Good luck with signing him.

      • The good news is I don’t think any pitcher has ever torn his ulnar 3 times….right??????

    • The Pirates do need another starter. Liriano,Cole,Burnett is a pretty solid top 3. Guys like Worley,Locke,Morton,Pimentel,Cumpton all profile as #5 starter’s because of their past struggles. They are all ? marks because they could go either . In my opinion Liriano is your #1. Cole #2 Burnett is your #4 and we have plenty of options for the #5 and depth. I expect Taillon to take that #3 spot at some point but We need Volquez or another high upside starter as the 3-4 guy. If we add a significant #3 starter we will have the best rotation in the Central from top to bottom in my opinion

      • I’m with you Chris; bring back Eddie for a reasonable 3 year deal. Let’s see what the good, long time buddies Frankie and Eddie can together accomplish!

      • I think you are underselling Worley. He pitched like a #3 for us.

      • Morton would not be a #5 in anyone’s rotation in the league. He is a #4 on all 30 plus teams in the majors at worst. Locke is a #5 due to his inconcisstency, and would be on most teams especially since he’s a lefty. Worley based on last year and his first year with the phillies would have him as a #3 on a bad team and a #4 on a good team, every team wishes he was their 5th starter after how he performed last year, quite honestly better than Eddie V, whom a lot of you would like to sign and push worley out of the rotation (which would happen when morton came back after a month or so). A #3 pitcher needs to eat innings and provide consistent outings without blowups, a #4 needs to provide either good innings or good ERA, and not much of anything is generally expected from a #5, except maybe to win half of the games he pitches and maybe not have a negative WAR

  • I’d pass on Volquez. While I’d like to see another starter added, Volquez is not my guy. Morrow, Anderson, Beachy/Medlen are the guys I would go after.

    • Personally I would only sign Beachy/Medlen to a heavily incentive-laden contract, but tiny guaranteed dollars. And I don’t think either of them will settle for that. I might give a little more to Anderson, but Morrow seems like he’s just a mess – worse than Morton ever was. I’m not going to put it past Searage/Benedict to help, but so far in his MLB career Morrow has used more arm angles than a circus contortionist.

      Here is a fascinating analysis of the mess Morrow has become:

    • Volquez gives the team more of a steadying force in terms of innings. If something were to happen with Morton, they would feel good knowing Volquez has rather consistently been an innings eater as opposed to slightly better but far more injury prone options with Morrow.

    • I wouldn’t touch anderson cause he is a massive walking open sore. Morrow is just a mess in general, but could always be put back into the bullpen if needed. Beachy and Medlen can be #2 in rotation if they stay healthy so you could sign them and have Worley take over if they get hurt i guess

  • I like Eddy V but at this point why not take a chance on a higher risk/reward guy like Morrow, Anderson, Medlan, etc?

  • I like Eddy V but at this point why not take a chance on a higher risk/reward guy like Morrow, Anderson, Medlan, etc?

    • Eddy was always a horse, even when ineffective… Those 3 names : Hurt , Hurt and Hurt.

    • Medlen and Beachy are both better pitchers than literally almost everyone out there not named Josh Johnson but they all have the same injury prone issue. Depth serves no purpose if its on the DL when you need it

  • William Wallace
    December 9, 2014 2:01 pm

    Find out what that kid Murray is saying. You guys ought to make him your “Trade Rumor Vent Guy” lol.

  • Cole / Liriano / Burnett / Locke / Worley / Morton + Taillon/Kingham.

    I’m down with that. Not even sure Eddy is needed.

    • Stargell_Stars
      December 9, 2014 3:16 pm

      Morton is always hurt, you can’t count on him.

      • Truth be told, you can’t really count on him when he’s healthy either. Great peripherals, but it’s that one inning most games that leads to doom. I always figured him to be the guy to get this generation its first no-no. I still think that’s possible… one day he just HAS to put it all together, right?

        • We get it, you dislike Morton no matter healthy or not. Problem is, statistically when healthy he is a fine middle rotation arm. 1.3 WAR and a mid 3 ERA two years in a row, along with periphs that back up his ERA. Whats more, he is perfect for the system they want of groundballs and limited HRs.

          • All that, and then take a look at the free agent starters getting signed for 2 yrs and $16m this winter to get a feel for the real value Morton provides.

            December 9, 2014 5:12 pm

            Why do you discount bucsws2014 point about his single inning implosions? It’s not a matter of liking or disliking Morton. In fact he appears to be quite likeable.
            It’s maddening watching that talent often allow that one inning to tarnish an otherwise solid outing. If he figures that out, he’s a 16-18 game winner. That’s the only metric that matters, wins.

            • Funny if satire.

            • Because it discounts the overall body of work and punishes him for having bad innings. It literally is taking SSS over a season long showing of how good a player is. You further increase the insanity by issuing the opinion that wins are paramount for a pitcher. Another realllllyyy poor way of judging a SP. I could judge a SP on wins and a handful of 1 inning stinkers, or i could look at his sub 4 ERA, sub 4 FIP, sub 4 xFIP, high GB rate and realize he is a fine middle rotation arm.

              Charlie Morton on the open market would demand waaay more than his current deal, so Pirate fans should be very happy to have him. Instead, we get fans saying “he is mentally weak”, “he has too many bad innings”, “he doesnt win enough games”. The only actual mark against Morton as a #3 option is his injury risk.

              • SPIF HUDDLESTON
                December 9, 2014 5:43 pm

                Bro let’s stay focused. I don’t care what his value is on the open market or any other metrics. I see an incredibly gifted pitcher who throws the ball well for 4-6 innings, but consistently has a bad inning during that stretch. I want to know why he can’t get over that hurdle. It’s not like he has one good start and 2 bad starts. He has one bad inning wrapped around 4-6 good innings.

                • The reason for what you’re describing is that he’s essentially a platoon pitcher.

                  Sinker-curveball guy that throws from 3/4 with nothing to challenge lefties and marginal control over all. When he puts RHB’s on base, he’s susceptible to multi-run innings if the lefty sequencing doesn’t work in his favor.

                  • SPIF HUDDLESTON
                    December 9, 2014 5:55 pm

                    If that’s the case why doesn’t Searage change his arm slot or could it be that he’s his own worst enemy?

                    • The arm slot is what turned him from the worst pitcher in baseball into a legit mid-rotation starter. Go back over the top and you lose the sinker. Lose the sinker and he’s 2010 Charlie Morton.

                      If he can incorporate an offspeed pitch such as a change or split, he’ll reach his potential. Big, BIG “if”, however.

                    • He already throws a split actually……he literally has 8 pitches he throws and changes his pitch repitoire based on the team he’s facing. I remember an interview about it this year and saw a few games where he was using that split

                    • 4.4%

                      When you only throw a pitch 4.4% of the time, that’s not actually a pitch in your repertoire. If it was good enough to get LHB out, he’d be using it more.

              • One thing I can say which noone will ever argue with (if they watch the post game interviews) is that Charlie either has serious anxiety in front of a camera, is intellectually nil, or has some sort of speech difficulty. I want to stab myself in the eye everytime he struggles to answer a question. Gladly this has no impact on his slightly above average pitching

                • I live for Charlie Morton post-game interviews. Some of the best entertainment in sports.

                • He does seem to be a guy that shys away from the camera. Im surprised more athletes arent like this, since most people in general arent comfortable in front of cameras and audiences.

              • I’m on your side L Sutton, but disagree that he is worth $8M, even on a 1 year deal. Maybe that is OK for his WAR, but it eats too much of the Bucs budget. If you’re right, the Pirates should seriously move him the first time he has a 60+ game score.

            • Because his point quite ironically misses the point. We look at Morton and his results including his 1 inning implosions, and he is still pretty decent. That is all. If any of you guys out there watched any of Liriano’s first 15 starts, he had those SAME implosions, and they were usually early in the game as he had zero idea where his changeoup was going, and not much more where his fastball was going.

              • SPIF HUDDLESTON
                December 9, 2014 6:20 pm

                That much is true about Liriano. I never said that Morton wasn’t decent. I’m saying he could be real good if he found a way to get past those implosions.

        • You can’t really count on Liriano as well if you want to go down that rabbit hole. They have both been inconsistent, have lacked the ability to pitch deep into games, and get injured. So if you like one and don’t like the other, you probably just aren’t that intelligent. I like them both, but wouldn’t bet the house against any team on any day that they would pitch well

        • I actually like Charlie A LOT. I was a huge supporter from day one, fighting off a lot of detractors. He pitched in my old neck of the woods, Joel Barlow HS of the FCIAC. We don’t get many guys from CT making the big time.

          That said, I like the Bucs winning even more and because of all of Charlie’s great peripherals – and what NMR noted below regarding market value – I wanted to trade him this offseason to get help elsewhere. He’s expendable and may even benefit from a change of scenery. But he got hurt.

          If he keeps his value, I’m all for trading him asap and wishing him all the success he can have elsewhere. I’ll still be a fan of his.

        • Stargell_Stars
          December 10, 2014 7:48 am

          That’s true also. I never feel comfortable when he’s pitching, that’s for sure. One would think that if it were EVER going to come together completely for him, it would’ve happened by now. The Bucs have definitely shown lots of patience with him.

    • I’d rather have Volquez in the rotation than Locke. Eddie’s #s were tantalizing in 2nd half of 14. If he can be had for $9 mill, I’d go for it. IMO, Taillon is going to need more time in AAA to get back to where he was – and maybe he’s only a Sept callup. Kingham is still a work in progress.

      • All things considered, I would agree bucs, but i’d rather spend that extra 8 million a year somewhere else Locke is basically league minimum vs. 8-10 million a year for eddie whom we don’t need. They have the same upside as seen twice when Locke has had 10-12 great starts over a 2-3 month period, both outpacing their FIP as well. Locke’s numbers are actually better than the career averages of Eddie V

        • You can do that too with the $8 mill as long as it’s not someone off two TJs. But I’m over Locke. Kid has some growing up to do still. Maybe AJ gets him over that.