The Pittsburgh Pirates have been on the lookout for their latest reclamation project, and according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports they have found him. The Pirates have signed Edinson Volquez to a one-year, $5 million deal. The Pirates’ rotation now projects to be Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez with Volquez slotting in at the fifth spot.
The idea behind signing someone like Volquez is that the Pirates will be able to turn his career around. Pitching coaches Ray Searage and Jim Benedict have proved to be pitching gurus over the past two seasons. First, they turned A.J. Burnett into one of the top pitchers in the National League after having a terrible tenure with the New York Yankees. Then last season they transformed Liriano into the NL Comeback Player of the Year.
The difference between Burnett and Liriano compared to Volquez is that Burnett and Liriano were actually good pitchers at one point in time prior to coming to the Pirates. Volquez, on the other hand, has been a dumpster-fire his entire career except for 2008. Liriano had a formula for success prior to signing with the Pirates — limit walks, get strikeouts and induce ground balls. He was able to return to that form in 2013 and have success.
Volquez has always been a ground ball pitcher that can strike out a lot of batters. The difference? The results aren’t good. This is due to an insanely high 4.75 BB/9 over his career. It certainly isn’t impossible to think that Searage and Benedict can help Volquez throw strikes more consistently — having one of the best pitch-framers, Russell Martin, behind the plate certainly won’t hurt. However, $5 million for a pitcher with so many question marks is worrisome for a team with a low budget like the Pirates. Adding to the equation that signing Volquez may rule out a Burnett return makes this deal seem even worse.