The Kansas City Royals and Edinson Volquez are in an interesting situation heading into the offseason, with a mutual option to be decided on, with the implications being either free agency or maybe even a qualifying offer.
Volquez and the Royals have a $10 million mutual option for the 2017 season. If both sides agree, then so be it. If it’s only Volquez who opts in, the Royals can decide on another season with the 33-year old rightie, or to buy him out for $3 million. However, if Volquez decides to opt out and hit free agency, the Royals can offer him a $16.7 million, one-season qualifying offer, which could be very tempting for Volquez. Declining it, and signing him would cost a draft pick to the team that gets him.
Volquez had a bad season. He’s never been a low-ERA kind of guy, but at 5.25 this season, he’s at his worst since 2013, when he posted a 5.72 ERA. His strikeout per walk ratio has fallen to 1.96, but he’s had worse seasons. This isn’t an outstandingly bad season for Volquez, and in the current market for starting pitchers, it might not hurt him bid to sign a big two or three year deal too badly. Not with Volquez posting a fifth consecutive season with over 30 starts, crossing the 180 innings for the third straight year.
And his durability, along with his World Series experience (he pitched OK for the Royals in the 2015 playoffs), will make him a hot enough free agent. He’ll probably not get a better one-year offer than the qualifying offer potential, but he might be inclined to take less per year for a three year deal, fearing that this season signals the beginning of the end for him after 12 years in the majors.
With Volquez completing his second season in Kansas City, he’d have made $17 million with the Royals. Overall, it seems unlikely that he’ll opt in for just $10 million a season. His season was bad, but not bad enough, and many don’t see him as an ERA kind of pitcher anyway. His durability and consistent fastball velocity (around 93 mph) seem strong indicators that he can make a lot more in this offseason.