Volquez split his time between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2013 season, going a combined 9-12 with a 5.71 ERA in 32 starts. While Volquez averaged 8.42 strikeouts per 9 innings last year and had an average fastball velocity of 93 MPH, his problem was and has always been his control.
Dating back to his time with the Cincinnati Reds, Volquez has had his dominant moments, as well as a multitude of stinkers. Volquez has had a 4.75 BB/9 ratio and has averaged under 5.2 innings pitched per start throughout the course of his career.
While they did ink Charlie Morton to a three-year, $21M extension earlier today, Pittsburgh is losing starter AJ Burnett—who is said to be considering retirement—to free agency. The Buccos were connected to free agent starter Bronson Arroyo earlier this offseason, but backed off after it appeared that it may take a three-year deal in order to land him.
After Francisco Liriano—who they practically signed off of the scrapheap last offseason—won National League Comeback Player of the Year this past season, it appears as if the Pirates are hoping they can convert on another reclamation project in their starting rotation this season.
At one year and $5M, this is a can't-lose signing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. If it works, you catch lightning in a bottle and ride it as far as it will take you. If not, it's a rotational depth move that cost you little, and you move on after the season.