The Royals had three major priorities in the offseason, and they appear to be fulfilled.
Edinson Volquez, who went 13-7 in 31 starts for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, has reached two-year contract agreement for $20 million with the Royals, pending a physical, according to reports by CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
The Royals on Tuesday announced the signing of switch-hitter Kendrys Morales to fill the team’s designated hitter void. And the team was close to filling a spot in right field by announcing a one-year, $11 million contract with Alex Rios, pending a physical.
But they remained in the hunt for a starting pitcher, Royals general manager Dayton Moore said Tuesday in a news conference welcoming Morales to Kansas City.
Apparently, that need was filled. Volquez spent one season in Pittsburgh and produced one of the best of efforts of a major-league career that started in 2005. He posted a 3.04 ERA in 192 2/3 innings with 140 strikeouts. He led the Pirates in innings pitched and starts.
Moore was unavailable for comment Wednesday.
Volquez got the ball in the Pirates’ National League Wild Card Game and took the loss against San Francisco, surrendering five runs in five innings.
The Pirates signed Volquez for $5 million at the 2013 Winter Meetings. When they re-signed Francisco Liriano for three years and $39 million, it made Volquez’s return unlikely.
Volquez, 31, a native of the Dominican Republic, came up with the Texas Rangers and had his best year with the Cincinnati Reds in 2008. He went 17-6 with 206 strikeouts, which ranked second in the National League, and made the All-Star team.
Volquez also has pitched for the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers before landing in Pittsburgh last season. He bounced back from a terrible 2013 season that saw him get cut by the Padres after posting a 6.01 ERA in 27 starts and land with the Dodgers, where he wasn’t much better.
He was seen as one of the top remaining starting pitchers on the free-agent market after Jon Lester and Ervin Santana had signed.
The top two available pitchers — Max Scherzer and James Shields — were seen as out of the Royals’ price range.
Shields spent the past two years with the Royals, winning 27 games and helping the team reach its first World Series in 29 years in 2014.
The signing would complete the Royals’ rotation for next season with Volquez joining Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas.
The acquisitions of Volquez, Morales and Rios could mean the Royals are finished shopping in the free-agent aisle.
With all three signed, the Royals would have around $110 million in salary obligations for their projected 25-man roster for next season.