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Rangers Interested In Edinson Volquez

The Rangers are interested in a reunion with Royals right-hander Edinson Volquez, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Volquez actually started against Texas today, holding the Rangers to one run over six innings to earn a no-decision in what ended up as a 2-1 Rangers victory.  As Grant noted, “the entire Rangers inner circle of front office personnel was on hand to see” Volquez pitch.

Texas been looking far and wide for rotation upgrades before the deadline, including checking in on such major names as Chris Sale and the Rays’ collection of starters (Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore and Drew Smyly).  Those pitchers, however, are all controllable and thus have high asking prices.  Between the high prospect cost and the injuries plaguing the Texas rotation, GM Jon Daniels admitted that his team may shift its mindset to consider short-term additions.

I think that’s the only thing that’s really changed is that I was hoping we wouldn’t have to consider rentals,” Daniels said.  “I think if we had a healthy rotation, we’d only be looking at guys who are controllable past this season. [Rentals] would not be our preference, but we’ve got to be open.”

Volquez would fit the bill as such a rental pitcher.  Volquez is in the final year of a two-year contract that paid him $17MM in guaranteed salary, plus there is a $10MM mutual option on his services for 2017 that can be bought out for $3MM.  (Incidentally, Volquez also gets a $500K assignment bonus in the event of a trade.)  He would obviously come at a much lower cost than Sale or any of the Rays pitchers, though the Royals are still undecided about selling at the deadline or making another postseason push.  Grant reports that at least 20 teams had scouts watching the Rangers/Royals series, which is no surprise given that both teams could be such big players before August 1.

Volquez is also something of a known commodity in Texas, having been originally signed by the Rangers as an 18-year-old amateur free agent in 2001 and breaking into the bigs with them from 2005-07.  Now 33 years old, Volquez has had his share of ups and downs over his 12 years in the bigs, though he experienced a bit of a career revival with the Pirates in 2014 as one of the many success stories of pitching coach Ray Searage.  Volquez turned that bounce-back year into his current deal with the Royals, and the righty was a big part of Kansas City’s World Series championship team in 2015.

This season hasn’t gone quite as smoothy for Volquez, as he has only a 4.56 ERA over 124 1/3 innings even after today’s strong outing.  ERA indicators show that his ERA is roughly a half-run higher than it should be, and Volquez is providing his usual contribution of generating ground balls (53.4% grounder rate) while not missing many bats (6.92 K/9).  Volquez also averaged 186 innings per season from 2012-15, so his durability would bring much-needed stability to the thinned-out Texas rotation.