Teams across baseball have started doing their homework in anticipation for this summer’s trade deadline and it appears that one of the early targets to start drawing the attention of scouts is San Diedo Padres right-hander Edinson Volquez. Multiple scouts were reportedly in attendance on Saturday to watch Volquez and others (specifically right-handed reliever Anthony Bass), according to Bill Center at U-T San Diego. He reports that he’s heard Jake Arrieta of the Baltimore Orioles has already been mentioned as a possibility for either pitcher.
Center also mentions the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays as possible suitors for Volquez, while the Kansas City Royals have been scouting for a corner outfielder and middle infielder.
There’s no real surprise to see Volquez’ name appearing in trade rumors, given his relatively affordable contract ($5.275 Million) and the fact that he’ll be a free agent at season’s end there’s little reason for the Padres not to move him. San Diego finds themselves in the middle of the pack in the National League, so while it’s too early to give up on the 2013 season there is still logical reasoning towards looking ahead to the future. Volquez isn’t going to be a part of that future, which makes him available to the right buyer.
He hasn’t pitched well enough to jump to the top of anyone’s wish list, but he’s been serviceable and reliable on the season to date. In 16 starts and 87.1 IP he’s 5-6 with a 5.67 ERA, 1.603 WHIP, and 7.3 K/9. If he can continue to remain healthy – last season was the first since 2008 that he’d made 30+ starts – then he could fill that “backend of the rotation innings eater” role for a team with playoffs possibilities, which could explain Baltimore’s interest.
Bass has made 19 appearances out of the team’s bullpen, with a 4.28 ERA and 1.455 WHIP over 33.2 IP. He’s not yet arbitration eligible. Bass was called up from Triple-A prior to Saturday’s game, prompting a scout to change his plans in order to see the 25 year old pitch this weekend, according to Center’s post above.
What’s interesting is Center’s noting that Arrieta’s name had already been brought up in some discussions. A scout even suggested that both sides could benefit from a simple change of scenery here.
Arrieta was once a highly touted arm coming up through Baltimore’s system – thrown into a belief that the team had a trio of young arms (Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, and Arrieta) who’d someday lead their rotation to a World Series – but he’s never been able to live up to that hype (nor has Matusz, to be fair). The 27 year old has made five starts with the Orioles, going 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA and 1.775 WHIP over 23.2 IP. He’s spent most of the year back at Triple-A, where he’s hardly been better in 42.0 IP. There he’s 4-3 with a 5.14 ERA and 1.286 WHIP.
Baltimore does have other options internally that have clearly overstepped Arrieta for the rotation and the team has repeatedly been linked to interest in acquiring a veteran arm before the deadline. Arrieta has made himself expendable in Baltimore but he could still be of interest to another organization if he can sort things out. He hasn’t yet reached arbitration, so the years of team control are an added benefit. He could be just the type of pitcher that the Padres could look to acquire once they reach the point where they start to move some pieces.