Cincinnati handed out new multi-year contracts to Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, and Bronson Arroyo this offseason, spending more than $150 million in the process, but the Reds’ attempts to do the same with Edinson Volquez were denied.
Volquez told the Dominican newspaper El Caribe that the Reds offered him “a four-year contract, the same as Johnny Cueto.” He turned it down, saying he “felt it wasn’t right for me” and instead avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.625 million deal.
Certainly young players turn down long-term contract offers all the time, but what makes this situation particularly interesting is that Volquez is just one year removed from Tommy John elbow surgery and, while on the shelf for that, served a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Given those factors you’d think a 27-year-old pitcher who has so far earned “only” $1.3 million for his career would be very open to the idea of a long-term commitment, particularly if his saying it was “the same as Johnny Cueto” means the offer was anywhere close to the four-year, $27 million deal Cueto signed.
Volquez will make $1.625 million this season and still has two more arbitration eligible seasons before becoming a free agent, so even $20 million is more than he figures to make prior to hitting the open market following the 2013 season, particularly since he’s thrown just 112 innings with a 4.33 ERA and one major arm surgery since a breakout 2008 campaign.
UPDATE: According a source familiar with the Reds’ offer, the contract Volquez turned down was nowhere near the $27 million Cueto received, so when he said it was “the same as Johnny Cueto” that likely just meant in years. In that case Volquez declining the offer makes a bit more sense, as the Reds apparently tried to get him at a bargain rate because of the elbow problems and suspension.