Despite winning 94 games in 2013, the Pittsburgh Pirates had yet another boring offseason in which the biggest move was paying $5 million for one season of a terrible pitcher. The chances of Edinson Volquez ever living up to his $5 million deal are slim-to-none. There were plenty of other options on the free agent pitching market that the Pirates would have been much better off signing.
Many people have compared the Volquez signing to last offseason’s Francisco Liriano signing, but I don’t understand the comparisons. Volquez has had one decent season in his career. Liriano had three or four great seasons prior to signing with the Pirates.
Here is Volquez’s stat-line from 2008 (his only good season): 196 innings, 9.46 K/9, 3.21 ERA, 3.60 FIP and 4.27 BB/9; this was his only good season. It was almost six years ago.
When Liriano struggles, it’s because he struggles with command. Even in Volquez’s good season, he still walked over four batters per nine innings. That season was fluky. He will never be that good again. One might think $5 million isn’t a lot of money to ante up for a pitcher, but $5 million feels more like $15 million for the Pirates.
In Spring Training, Volquez has done nothing to show he is worthy of grabbing that fifth rotation spot with the Pirates. Unfortunately, since he is making $5 million, he is all but guaranteed a spot. To take the job from him, either Jeff Locke or Stolmy Pimentel would have to pitch remarkably. In just two appearances, the right-handed pitcher has struggled to throw strikes. His main problem throughout his career has been commanding the strike zone, and he still can’t do it. It’s time to admit that signing Volquez was a mistake.