KC Royals starter Edinson Volquez told reporters on Wednesday afternoon that he wants to come back to Kansas City in 2017, despite the opportunity to choose free-agency this winter.
The Kansas City Royals and Volquez have a $10 million mutual option for the 2017 season. If either side declines their option, the Royals must pay Volquez a $3 million buyout.
Volquez told Fox Sports reporter Jeffrey Flanagan on Wednesday:
"“I have no idea right now,” Volquez said. “You have to wait until after the World Series and see what happens. I haven’t talked to [general manager] Dayton [Moore] or my agent. I don’t know. … I know they haven’t done [a mutual option] in Kansas City.”"
The marginal cost of bringing back Volquez is an additional $7 million. That’s a bargain for a starter in today’s free-agent market. Further, Volquez might be willing to accept such a deal given that his 11-11, 5.25 ERA could hurt his value on the free-agent market.
However, Volquez could elect test the waters since the market for pitches looks thin this winter. Further, Volquez’s 5.25 ERA doesn’t tell the entire story. He’s eaten 181.2 innings with two more starts remaining in 2016. Also Volquez’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) of 4.47 suggests that he’s gotten a bit unlucky in 2016.
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A First Time For Everything
If the KC Royals and Volquez do decide to exercise his mutual option, it will be the first time in general manager Dayton Moore’s tenure with the club. Typically, Moore has simply used the mutual option term to push back guaranteed money to the year after a free-agent contract expires in the form of a buyout.
If the Kansas City Royals were not facing a payroll crunch in 2017, they wouldn’t think twice about bringing back Volquez. But with the need to shore up their bullpen, and designated hitter Kendrys Morales also hitting a mutual option in 2017, the KC Royals could have other priorities.
For Volquez, the reason he wants to return is pretty simple. He wants to come back because he thinks Kansas City can win the World Series in 2017:
"“That’s why I want to [stay],” Volquez said. “They’re going to keep the same guys here. The chemistry is good. It would be hard to be away from these guys.”"
The biggest reason Dayton Moore might decide to move on from Edinson Volquez would be if he wants to insert one of his prospects into the rotation. Matt Strahm‘s dominance as a reliever suggests he could be a cheap solution for the Royals starting staff. Josh Staumont has also found his control in AA in his last six starts. If Staumont can continue to throw strikes, he could jump to major-league baseball because he has ace stuff.