If you were wondering who the Pirates' "project" pitcher for 2014 was going to be, wonder no more:
Sources: #Pirates, free-agent RHP Edinson Volquez in agreement on one-year, $5M contract, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
I'll do some more analysis later, but let's start here: this seems straight-up crazy to me. Volquez made a little more than $5 million with the Padres last year and he was so bad they released him in August. Had they not released him, he would've been arbitration eligible in 2014, which means this is a one-year deal for the Pirates.
Volquez, of course, fits the Pirates' "mold" as well as any other project. He throws hard, his groundball rate usually sits around 50%, and he's usually got a strong strikeout rate, even in his worst years. On the flip side, his control is terrible. Since 2008, his breakout year with the Reds, his walk rate has been 4.9 BB/9 innings, and I feel like mentioning that is just scratching the surface. Really, besides that great year with the Reds in 2008, Volquez has mostly struggled in his career. The talent is there, but this is a real project for Ray Searage and Jim Benedict. The good news, I suppose, is that Benedict is still with the Pirates after interviewing for a couple of other jobs this winter. I'm not saying that it's impossible for them to straighten Volquez out, but I'm not sure I'm all that optimistic at this point.