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Edinson Volquez Hopes To Return To Royals, Will Mull Mutual Option

Royals righty Edinson Volquez says that he hopes to stay with the Royals past the present season, Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). The veteran hurler suggested that he is tempted to exercise his end of a $10MM mutual option, though he said he’ll need to assess the market and discuss the matter with his agent after the season.

It would be fairly surprising if Volquez does elect to trigger the mutual option, which would force K.C. to decide whether to pay him a hefty $3MM buyout or take on the full $10MM obligation. We’ve heard suggestions, after all, that the club is weighing whether to issue Volquez a $16.7MM qualifying offer — which would certainly presume that he has already passed on the option.

Both of those possibilities tee up the question of how to value the 33-year-old, who is fresh off of a solid outing yesterday but has otherwise been dreadful for quite some time now. Volquez’s earned run average last sat under 4.00 when the calendar flipped from May to June, and it has steadily risen ever since as he has coughed up 78 earned runs and allowed a .294/.360/.472 batting line over his last 114 1/3 innings. As things stand, Volquez owns a 5.25 ERA over 181 2/3 total frames on the season, with 6.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 to go with a 52.1% groundball rate.

That’s not exactly a sterling platform for free agency, but there are some silver linings. First and foremost, Volquez has been a rock, making over 30 starts in each of the last five seasons. And his average fastball velocity is holding firm at over 93 mph. ERA estimators have never really been in love with him, even when he was posting strong results in each of the last two seasons, but they largely view his current season as a continuation — with variances in strand rate, BABIP, and home run susceptibility largely explaining the different bottom-line marks.

It also bears note that the coming market lacks for rotation talent, not just at the top but also in the depth department. Clubs in search of solid innings will be lining up for arms like Volquez, who seems rather likely to find guaranteed money that exceeds the value of his mutual option. That being said, the qualifying offer could prove tempting, if issued, particularly since declining it would mean entering the market with draft compensation. It remains to be seen whether the Royals will be willing to risk that large a chunk of the organization’s payroll.