When this season ends, the Kansas City Royals can offer Edinson Volquez a qualifying offer and they probably will, which says a lot more about the starting pitching market in the upcoming free agency period than his ability in 2016.
Volquez was very good in helping the Royals win the World Series last season, but like a lot of players on this team, he’s been disappointing in the hangover year. The 33-year old righty has a 5.02 ERA this season (3.30 in 2014-2015) through 29 starts and 166.2 innings. No one has given up more earned runs than he has in the American League, and his 1.470 WHIP seems very familiar to his pre-Pittsburgh days, also giving up 1.1 home runs per nine innings.
With these kind of numbers and his age, offering a one-year, $16.7 million qualifying deal might sound a little bit risky. The Royals won’t be offering him a multi-year deal, but in a very thin pitching market, maybe sticking to someone familiar who they know can be a bit better, even if it is a little bit out of their usual price range, makes the most sense.
Volquez might decline the offer from the Royals, hoping that a strong finish to this season (he’s actually been getting worse with every passing month) can help him land a multi-year deal with someone, something that seems less and less likely with the season getting closer to its crescendo. Then again, Volquez might look very good considering the slim pickings among free agent starting pitchers. He made $9.5 million this season, and there’s a $10 million mutual option, which Volquez is likely to decline.
In any case, the Royals will probably go after cheap rotation arms in free agency if they’ll need one. They might also try and break up the core they’ve been trying so hard to keep together, opting for a trade with quite a few teams putting rather solid starters on the trading block. Non of them are perfect, but with an aging lineup and a few good youngsters coming up, the trade for rotation arm could be the best solution.