As we all know by now, the Marlins have signed free agent Edison Volquez to a two year deal worth $22 million. This will be Volquez' seventh team since making his debut back in 2005 with the Rangers. The former Royal earned a ring with Kansas City back in 2015, as he allowed just two runs over seven innings of work in game five of the World Series.
Don't get me wrong, I still think that it's in the club's best interest to spend serious money on starting pitching, as I have said before. But even with a thin free agent market, I don't think this move is worth $22 million. Edison Volquez seems to be one of those pitchers who has the image and reputation of a top tier starter despite his career numbers being rather vanilla. Opposers of that notion will point to his stats in 2014 and 2015, where he posted a 3.04 and 3.55 ERA, respectively. But that's my point: in a career spanning 12 seasons, only three times has Volquez posted an ERA under 4.00. In six of those seasons, his ERA has exceeded 5.00. And of course, he is coming off a dismal 2016 campaign where he went 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA, which produced a -0.8 fWAR.
Is Volquez one of the absolute worst pitchers in the MLB? Of course not. But he is a far, far cry from being one of the best, especially at this point in his career. If the Marlins were willing to spend this much money on a player who has been somewhat mediocre throughout his career, why wouldn't they try and sign Bartolo Colon? Colon is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in which he went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA. And how much did the Atlanta Braves have to spend to sign the veteran? Colon signed a one-year deal for $12.5 million. That's just $1.5 million more than what Miami will be paying Edison Volquez this season.
I understand how difficult it is to navigate the market of free agents, especially when a team can only afford so much. But this was not a deal the Marlins should have made. Volquez' name seems to have gotten bigger than his realistic value. By no means is this a pitcher who Miami can bank on when it comes to consistent production. This team still has highly tradeable players such as Marcell Ozuna and Derek Dietrich. I would much rather see them trade for a better pitcher in addition to giving one of their prospects a chance to earn a spot in the rotation. Despite his rocky stint in the bullpen last season, Austin Brice has posted good numbers as a starting pitcher in the minors. Prospect Jake Esch could also compete for a spot in the rotation. Esch and Brice might not be guaranteed to succeed, but at least those gambles would still be on their highly cost effective rookie contracts. With Volquez, the Marlins have now signed up for a significant gamble that will cost them $22 million, regardless of whether the veteran pitcher succeeds or fails.