The length of Edinson Volquez’s Royals career can be measured in months, a temporary sojourn that began two years ago, in the first week of 2015. Yet his place in franchise lore is already secure.
In the span of 22 months, Volquez started 67 games, posted a 4.43 ERA and pitched the club to its second World Series championship on Nov. 1, 2015, allowing one earned run in six innings in Game 5 in New York. Earlier this month, Volquez became a free agent when the Royals declined to deliver a qualifying offer, and on Monday night, his departure became all but official.
Volquez agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Miami Marlins, returning to the National League after two years in Kansas City. The contract, which was first reported by Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, is worth $22 million over two seasons, according to Fox Sports’s Ken Rosenthal.
The Royals had indicated a willingness to consider a reunion with Volquez when the offseason began. But a two-year commitment to a pitcher coming off a dismal 2016 did not fit into the club’s offseason priorities.
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In 2015, Volquez recorded a 3.55 ERA while logging 200 1/3 innings, anchoring the Royals staff while more than living up to a two-year, $20 million contract. In 2016, he regressed, posting a 5.37 ERA across 189 1/3 innings. He allowed a league-high 113 earned runs and his strikeouts decreased while his walks jumped. He turned 33 last July.
The Marlins, in need of veteran starting pitching, will hope a return to the National League and a lack of a postseason workload will re-energize Volquez in 2017. Volquez will return to the senior circuit, where he was an All-Star in Cincinnati and then rediscovered himself in Pittsburgh before signing with Kansas City.
The Royals, meanwhile, will offset the loss of Volquez with the return of left-hander Jason Vargas from Tommy John surgery. Vargas is expected to claim the fourth spot in the rotation behind Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and Yordano Ventura. That leaves one vacant spot, and the club will continue to monitor the thin free-agent market while counting on a cast of internal options.
Chris Young will return after an unimpressive 2016, and club officials have signaled confidence in a bounce-back. Left-hander Mike Minor, who signed a two-year deal before last season, will also return after a slow recovery from shoulder surgery limited his progress during 2016. Left-hander Matt Strahm and emerging prospect Josh Staumont will also get looks during spring training.
For now, however, the fifth starter spot appears fluid. And Volquez is off to Miami after a memorable jaunt in Kansas City.
In two seasons, Volquez ingratiated himself in the clubhouse with a friendly demeanor. He left his mark on the field during a memorable postseason, including a sterling effort during the American League Championship before a heart-tugging performance in the World Series.
In the hours before Game 1 at Kauffman Stadium, Volquez’s father, Daniel, died at home in the Dominican Republic. Volquez pitched anyway, unaware of the news, before learning about his father in the clubhouse after the game.
He returned home to be with his family and attend his father’s funeral before joining the team in New York. Then he took the mound in Game 5 and helped the Royals to a championship.