What can the Rockies expect from the right-hander they signed for $1.5 million?
The Colorado Rockies are actively searching the free-agent market for rotation options, and according to the Denver Post's Troy Renck, the club added a bit of depth by signing right-hander Chris Volstad to a minor-league deal on Sunday. Volstad's contract is said to be worth $1.5 million, and he will compete for a spot in the rotation during spring training.
The 26-year-old Volstad's career ground-ball rate of 50.2 percent certainly fits the profile of a pitcher that could thrive in Coors. However, last year, the righty was regularly knocked around to the tune of a 11.1 H/9, had difficulty keeping the ball out of the stands on fly balls (1.3 HR/9), and saw a significant increase in his walks (from 2.7 BB/9 to 3.5 BB/9) and decrease in strikeouts (from 6.4 K/9 to 4.9 K/9).
There is no evidence that Volstad was injured during the 2012 season, the velocity on his pitches was relatively consistent, and his BABIP was only a tick above average—clocking in at .315—so there are no glaring reasons to account for his unsightly 5.15 FIP in 111⅓ innings.
Volstad enjoyed early success with the then-Florida Marlins when he first arrived in the majors as a 21-year-old in 2008, but he has never been able to replicate those numbers across a full season. The former first round pick's numbers have worsened almost every season, and he was worth -0.2 WARP last year.
It's possible the Rockies will be able to salvage Volstad's career, and his contract won't break the bank, but Colorado ought to keep searching for another starter.