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01/31/11 5:23 PM EST
Reds ink Volquez for one year, avoid arbitration
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The Reds' long streak of avoiding arbitration was assured of remaining intact for another year on Monday after right-hander Edinson Volquez signed a one-year contract worth $1.625 million. That salary falls right at the midpoint of the arbitration numbers that were recently exchanged. Volquez was seeking $2 million while the club countered with $1.3 million. According to the Associated Press, the contract includes $50,000 in performance bonuses based on the number of starts Volquez makes. According to general manager Walt Jocketty, the Reds tried to offer Volquez a multiyear contract, but the starting pitcher's side wanted to keep it to a one-year pact. "The only way we could get the deal done was for one year," Jocketty said on Monday. On Sunday, Jocketty indicated the club could revisit a longer deal with Volquez later. Volquez returned from Tommy John surgery rehab after the All-Star break and went 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 62 2/3 innings -- including a 1.95 ERA over his final four starts. The 26-year-old walked 35 and struck out 67 batters. He was charged with four runs on four hits and was pulled after 1 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the National League Division Series as the Reds were dealt a no-hitter by the Phillies' Roy Halladay. The season also included a 50-game suspension when Volquez was caught violating Major League Baseball's performance-enhancing drug policy. The suspension was served while he was rehabilitating on the disabled list, but Volquez still lost $120,000 in salary. The Reds acquired Volquez from the Rangers in a December 2007 trade for outfielder Josh Hamilton. In 2008, Volquez made it to the NL All-Star squad and finished 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA, but he was shut down by June the following season after only nine starts and he eventually underwent season-ending shoulder surgery. This season, the Reds are counting on Volquez to be one of the top-end starters in their rotation. "I would hope so," Jocketty said. "I think without the injury, he would've continued to pitch like he did in 2008. We know we've got [Bronson] Arroyo, Volquez and [Johnny] Cueto and we'll see where they are ranked at Spring Training. We'll see what kind of shape they're in and the progress they've made and stuff like that." Despite having three different general managers over that span, Cincinnati has not had to go to an arbitration hearing with a player since Chris Reitsma lost his case in 2004. This season, the Reds had six players eligible for arbitration in Volquez, Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Cueto, Bill Bray and Jared Burton. All but Burton were eligible for the first time. "Your goal is to get them done, but you don't want to do a bad deal," Jocketty said. "They all were good deals for us and good for the players." Bruce signed a six-year, $51 million contract in December, while earlier this month, Votto signed a three-year, $38 million deal and Cueto got a $27 million contract over four years with a $10 million club option for a fifth year. Bray signed a one-year contract for $645,000 and Burton received $750,000 for one year. Volquez's signing effectively sets the Reds' 2011 payroll, though the club still has to sign its 0-3 year players under its control to one-year contracts worth around the league minimum. Last season's Opening Day payroll was around $76 million. "It will be a little bit higher," Jocketty said, without revealing a figure.