Kansas City has been looking for a front of the rotation arm after losing James Shields to free agency, and may have found one on Wednesday night. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Royals signed Edinson Volquez to a two-year, $20 million contract that is pending a physical exam.
The 31-year old right-hander posted a 3.04 ERA and 4.15 FIP in 192.2 innings pitched last season. He has been durable throughout the course of his career, and made 31 starts for Pittsburgh in 2014. Volquez has established himself as one of baseball's better strikeout pitchers, and struck out 140 a season ago. In addition to Volquez, the Royals' rotation is expected to feature Danny Duffy, Jason Vargas, Yordano Ventura, and Jeremy Guthrie.
Although the two parties have likely communicated, the Royals are preparing a rotation that will keep them competitive in the event that Shields does not return. With Jon Lester signing with the Cubs at the Winter Meetings, Shields and Max Scherzer are among the two bigger free agent starting pitchers still on the market. Volquez, who has a career 4.44 ERA, has had difficulty finding the strike zone consistently at times, and led the National League with 15 wild pitches in 2014.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Volquez would receive a two-year, $18 million deal, only slightly less than the value of the actual deal. He has pitched at least 170 innings in each of the last three seasons, which may have made him attractive to Kansas City. Volquez had success with Russell Martin and Chris Stewart behind the plate in Pittsburgh, and benefitted from Clint Hurdle's use of infield shifts.
After falling short in the World Series, the Royals have been forced to improve with a limited budget this offseason. The club lost Billy Butler to the Athletics, however added Alex Rios and Kendrys Morales in recent days. If the Royals are seeking consistent success, Volquez will have to find command each time he takes the mound.