The Royals front office has decided not to pick up their end of pitcher Edinson Volquez’s $10 million option for 2017. Instead, they will pay his $3 million buyout.
Kansas City Royals General manager Dayton Moore declared that he’s trying to reduce the club’s record $135 million payroll in 2016. He told Kansas City Star beat writer Rustin Dodd on Tuesday:
"“This payroll was put together with going deep in the postseason (in mind),” Moore said. “That didn’t happen. Again, I’m accountable for that. It’s not going to look very good on the spreadsheet when the bill comes due.“Last year’s payroll, it was built to go deep in the postseason; that worked out. This year, it didn’t. So we’ll have to re-evaluate that, probably reorganize, take some steps back.”"
According to Fan Rag’s Jon Heyman, that scaling back includes declining the option on starting pitcher Edinson Volquez. Heyman’s sources also indicate that the KC Royals will exercise their team options on Wade Davis ($10 million) and Alcides Escobar ($6.5 million).
With Moore apparently needing to cut expenses, letting Volquez go is a an easy decision. Volquez will be 33-years-old in 2017 and went 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA in 2016. Even if you consider that ERA overblown due to bad luck due to his 4.57 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) that accounts for hit sequencing, Volquez was nothing more than a no. 5 starter.
Moore can get that kind of production from bringing back Dillon Gee for $2 to $3 million on the open market. Add in prospects Matt Strahm and Josh Staumont, who could take rotation roles in 2017, and Volquez just isn’t worth the money.
More from Kings of Kauffman
- KC Royals Hot Stove News: Trades, signings, more
- Grading the 2022 KC Royals: Relief pitcher Jose Cuas
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: St. Louis has pitching
- KC Royals: No seismic moves announced by tender deadline
- KC Royals Free Agent Hunt: Any help in San Diego?
However, Moore needs to find some way to get more production from his rotation. Kansas City Royals starters ate up 900.1 innings in 2016, but produced a mere 5.6 fWAR in value (27th in MLB). An average starting staff produced around 5 to 6 WAR more value, which would have gone a long way toward making up the eight wins short they needed to tie the Blue Jays and Orioles for a wild card.
How Moore attempts to answer this need will likely depend on what his scouts tell him about Strahm and Staumont. Staumont, in particular, is a question mark.
Josh Staumont started getting the ball over the plate in his last six AA starts, which allowed his stellar stuff to dominate. If he continues to show improved command in the Arizona Fall League, he’s a rotation candidate in Kansas City. Staumont sports an 80 grade fastball, combined with a sharp curve and average change that plays up due to his overwhelming heat.
The other wild card is the oft-injured Kyle Zimmer. By now, KC Royals fans are tired of hearing about this prospect since he never seems to be available. However, the hope is that Throacic Outlet Syndrome surgery might have fixed his nagging shoulder issues.
Even in a best case scenario, however, I don’t see Zimmer holding down a rotation spot in 2017. Zimmer has never thrown more than 108.1 innings in his professional career, and that was in 2013. The Kansas City Royals will be cautious with his innings even if he’s healthy in 2017.
To me, that means Zimmer’s upside in 2017 is as a back-end reliever. Ideally, achieving that goal would free up Strahm to pitch in the rotation.