Many Kansas City Royals free-agent signings, including Edinson Volquez, have a mutual option tacked on to the end of their contracts. The Royals could try to extend Volquez’s deal to $10 million for one more year. If either party declines the option, the Royals will have to pay a $3 million buyout.
The problem is, Volquez’s numbers haven’t looked very good this season. He’s 10-11 with a 5.40 ERA in 175 innings pitched. According to Baseball-reference, Volquez has been worth less than replacement-level starters. If the team believes that assessment is exactly what they can expect from him going forward, Volquez clearly shouldn’t be worth the $10 million qualifying offer.
Edinson Volquez’s Future with the Kansas City Royals
With teams aware of his struggles this season, Volquez might accept the $10 million mutual option. It’s possible that he’s incapable of capturing value coming off a poor statistical season. However, the free agent pitching market looks to be relatively barren this winter. Even the soon-to-be 33-year-old Volquez could draw a multi-year offer, despite his high ERA. He could then take it because it could be his last chance at a large contract.
This is where things get difficult. Kansas City could decide to make Volquez a qualifying offer, which will require a one-year, $16.7 million contract. That choice would attach a draft pick compensation to Volquez. However, losing a pick could lower Volquez’s value to the point where he might accept the qualifying offer.
The glaring concern with tying $16.7 million up in Volquez is that it could prevent the Royals from bringing back the hot bat in Kendrys Morales or re-signing closer Greg Holland. Most people will probably agree that Morales’ 28 homers and switch-hitting ability is worth more for next year than Volquez. After the recent blunders of Joakim Soria, bolstering the bullpen is an absolute must as well. It’s crucial for Kansas City’s success to have a three-headed monster back for 2017.
The reality of the situation is, Edinson Volquez is replaceable. The Kansas City Royals will have Ian Kennedy, Yordano Ventura, and Danny Duffy under contract for 2017. Jason Vargas will be in the last year of his deal at $8 million and Mike Minor signed for $ 4 million in 2017. That would give the Royals five experienced starters for next year. The question is, how sure are the Royals that Mike Minor can pitch next season?
The medical staff expected Minor to return in June from shoulder surgery to repair his torn labrum. And yet, here we are. Minor suffered multiple setbacks in his rehab before Kansas City decided to shut him down for the season. Behind those top five potential starters, the Royals have prospects Matt Strahm and Josh Staumont who might be ready for a rotation spot by next year. Who knows, maybe even Kyle Zimmer could join the picture as well. Unfortunately, relying on Zimmer to throw regular innings after Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery is quite the gamble. He’s struggled with injuries his entire professional career. If the Royals feel good about Minor, or the other two prospects, they could very well let Volquez go.