Edinson Volquez has been an All-Star, pitched at the top of a starting rotation and won a World Series.
The Marlins officially signed Volquez on Thursday to a two-year, $22 million deal hoping the 33-year-old Dominican right-hander can once again pitch at that high level in Miami.
“I live in Miami, and I really like this team,” Volquez said. “I’m really excited to pitch in this ballpark. I’ve been playing for a long time with a lot of different teams. This was my favorite team as a kid. This was my first choice.”
Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill said Volquez was at the top of the team’s list of targets as it hoped to bolster a starting rotation that suffered a severe blow in September following the death of ace Jose Fernandez in a boating accident.
“It was an obvious need for us,” Hill said. “With Edinson, you have an experienced All-Star who’s been a world champion. I think he’ll fit in nicely on our staff and gives us another proven starter that logs innings and can have a really good year.”
Securing Volquez without parting with any of their core players was huge for the Marlins, who enter next week’s MLB winter meetings with the hope of adding more quality arms for their starting rotation and bullpen.
Hill said top priorities were to find starting pitching options to add to a rotation that as of now would include Volquez, Adam Conley, Wei-Yin Chen and Tom Koehler as well as any potential options that would further strengthen their bullpen.
“We’re not done adding,” Hill said. “We’re planning to be active [at the winter meetings] and find ways to add more pitching to this club. I think we really believe strongly in the ability of our position players, and we want to add as much pitching as possible and give ourselves every opportunity to be successful.”
Volquez is entering his 13th major-league season and has a career record of 89-79 with a 4.44 ERA. He pitched the past two seasons with the Royals and won a World Series in 2015. He was an All-Star in 2008 with the Reds, going 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA that season.
But after going 13-9 with a 3.55 ERA during that championship run, Volquez’s numbers declined last year, as he went 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA.
Volquez pitched 229 innings including the postseason in 2015 and 189 1/3 innings last season.
In 2014 with the Pirates, with whom he worked with Marlins vice president of pitching development Jim Benedict, Volquez went 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA.
“My arm was good last year; I think I was just tired,” Volquez said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to be better than the year before and sometimes that doesn’t work. Now that I’ve had some time to recover I think I can help this team win.”
Volquez’s statistical decline did not concern the Marlins organization, according to Hill.
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“He did throw a lot of innings, and he did look a little tired,” Hill said. “But as we evaluated him we felt he was a tremendous bounce-back candidate given his experience and ability.”
Volquez has proven his durability — a quality the Marlins are looking for as they continue to search for pitching options. He has pitched 170 or more innings in each of the past five seasons.
“There was no dropoff in his fastball average,” Hill said.
“His above-average changeup is still there. All the pieces for him to be a successful pitcher are still there. It made complete sense that he should be a target for us and someone who could log a lot of innings for us.”