MLB Hot Stove Signings: Marlins nearing two-year deal with Edinson Volquez
Miami needs to add substantial starting rotation help this offseason
The Marlins were in desperate need of rotation help even before the tragic death of ace Jose Fernandez in September. Now, one month into the offseason, they are reportedly close to signing a veteran starter to plug one of their rotation holes:
sources: #marlins close to signing Edinson Volquez to 2 year deal— clarkspencer (@clarkspencer) November 29, 2016
To advance colleague Clark Spencer's story, per source, Marlins giving Edinson Volquez two years and $22 M.— Barry Jackson (@flasportsbuzz) November 29, 2016
Edinson Volquez, now 33, went 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA (81 ERA+) in 34 starts and 189 1/3 innings for the Royals in 2016. He pitched much better in 2015, when he went 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA (118 ERA+) while helping Kansas City to the World Series championship.
Earlier this offseason Volquez declined his half of a $10 million mutual option, allowing him to become a free agent. Here are three things to know about the reportedly imminent deal between Volquez and the Marlins.
1. There's no draft pick involved
The Royals declined to tender Volquez the $17.2 million qualifying offer earlier this offseason, so he is not attached to draft-pick compensation. The Marlins will keep their first-round pick and the Royals will not gain a supplemental first-round pick. It's a straight free-agent signing with no strings attached.
2. Volquez is reuniting with Jim Benedict
Three years ago the erratic Volquez got his career on track with the Pirates. He went 13-7 with 3.04 ERA (118 ERA+) in 192 2/3 innings during his lone season in Pittsburgh in 2014 after pitching to a 5.09 ERA (71 ERA+) in 461 2/3 total innings from 2011-13.
Volquez's turnaround stemmed from working with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage and special assistant Jim Benedict, who teamed up for other reclamation project success stories like Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett. Those two have helped a lot of pitchers turn their careers around the last few years.
Benedict left the Pirates last year and now works with the Marlins as their vice president of pitching development. I have no doubt that Benedict was consulted on this deal and that Benedict's presence was a factor in Volquez's decision to join the Marlins.
3. The Marlins still need rotation help
Volquez will step right into Miami's rotation alongside Wei-Yin Chen and Adam Conley. Tom Koehler is a safe bet for one of the other two spots. Jose Urena, Jake Esch and Justin Nicolino are all candidates for the fifth spot, though those three combined for a 5.57 ERA in 176 innings in 2016. They might want to continue looking for rotation help.
Keep in mind the current free-agent class is thin on pitching, plus the Marlins don't have many prospects to trade, so their resources are limited. The Marlins have always had success luring Latin American players to Miami though (location, location, location!), so perhaps a lower profile free agent like Jhoulys Chacin could be a target. Either way, I would be surprised if the Marlins consider their rotation complete following the Volquez deal.