Edinson Volquez looked impressive in a no decision on Sunday against the Rangers, tossing six innings and yielding just one run. That outing must have impressed Texas, because according to Rangers beat writer Evan Grant, the team is interested in acquiring the veteran right-hander before the August 1 trade deadline. The entire Rangers braintrust, including General Manager Jon Daniels, was in town today to see Volquez pitch. Grant notes that although Daniels has expressed a preference for pitchers signed beyond this year, the market may force him to settle for "rentals" like Volquez, who only has a $10 million mutual option for 2017.
"I think that's the only thing that's really changed is that I was hoping we wouldn't have to consider rentals," Daniels said Sunday, alluding to pitchers who can be free agents at the end of this season. "I think if we had a healthy rotation, we'd only be looking at guys who are controllable past this season. [Rentals] would not be our preference, but we've got to be open."
Volquez has had a down year and has a 4.56 ERA in 21 starts, although that is a bit skewed by his record-breaking awful performance against Houston on June 24. Without that start, he has an ERA of 3.79. His strikeout and walk rates are nearly identical to last season’s numbers, and his FIP is only slightly higher. Volquez has lasted six or more innings in 16 of his 21 starts this year. He originally began his career with the Rangers, until he was traded to the Reds for Josh Hamilton in 2007.
The starting pitching trade market appears to be fairly awful this year, with Drew Pomeranz already off the board, although rumors that Chris Sale and Jose Quintana may become available can improve that lot. The Rangers have had discussions with the Rays about Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Matt Moore, with Tampa Bay demanding a high asking price. Other short-term rentals like Jeremy Hellickson and Andrew Cashner are fairly underwhelming.
The Rangers have the fourth-best ERA for starting pitchers, but are without starters Colby Lewis and Derek Holland due to injury. Baseball America ranked the Rangers as the seventh-best farm system in baseball before the year. The Royals should not expect top-tier talent for Volquez, but a solid "B" prospect should be in the picture. Luis Ortiz would be a close-to-MLB ready prospect with high upside, but could be out of reach for the Royals. Yohander Mendez could be another pitcher to watch, or the Royals could look for a middle infielder like Josh Morgan or Andy Ibanez.
Grant reports scouts from 20 different clubs were at the Royals-Rangers game Sunday. The Royals will reportedly decide whether to be "buyers" or "sellers" at the end of their homestand which concludes Wednesday against the Angels. They are 2-4 on this homestand, and are now 48-49, six games back of a Wild Card spot.