Edinson Volquez turned down a four-year deal from the Reds

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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.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.