According to multiple reports, the Marlins are eagerly trying to trade right-handed starter Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco, 30, is said to be sought by several teams, with the Dodgers included. Hank Schulman, of the San Francisco Chronicle, reports that the Dodgers are aggressively pursuing him.
Nolasco has pitched in the majors since 2006, and has posted a career ERA to date of 4.43. However, his career FIP is 3.81, meaning he's suffered from some bad luck, which can be attributed to most players playing for the Marlins.
His career strikeout rate is 7.33 per nine innings, though it's been on the decline. He was striking out a batter an inning in 2009, but now strikes out just under seven per nine thus far in 2013. He's displayed good control over the year, with a strong walk rate and has lowered his home run rate over the past three seasons.
This year, Ricky has posted an ERA of 3.68 and a FIP of 3.55. His 0.81 home runs per nine innings is influenced by playing in a pitcher-friendly park in Miami, which has yielded the fewest longballs in the majors in 2013. While he has improved his strikeout rate, it's still below average for a starter.
Nolasco uses a four pitch mix to keep hitters off balance. His fastball is below average, clocking in at just over 90mph. He's done a better job of keeping the ball down over the past three seasons, with groundball rates over 40% and outfield flyball rates under 35%.
He uses both a slider and a curve, as well as a splitter, to give him a true four pitch mix. The slider, in particular, has been a weapon for him this year as it's pitch value per 100 ranks 14th among qualified starters.
Ricky is signed thru the end of the 2013 season and will become a free agent when his current deal expires. His total salary for the year was $11.5 million, about half of which has already been paid, so there's about $6 million left on his contract.
The Marlins want to get rid of him, as he's their most expensive player, so that's a point against Miami. However, he's also likely to be one of the better starting pitchers on the market as the trade deadline approaches, so that's a point in their favor. Seeing as how he could end up being nothing more than a 2-3 month rental, I doubt it takes a top prospect to land him.
A somewhat comparable pitcher, James Shields, was traded by the Rays to the Royals last December. While Shields' ERA has been lower and his strikeout rate has trended upward over the past few seasons, Shields was the 7th most comparable pitcher to Nolasco thru age 29 according to Baseball Reference.
Shields fetched the Rays one of the top prospects in the game, Wil Myers. Tampa Bay also picked up a good minor league arm in Jake Odorizzi, a hulking minor league infielder in Patrick Leonard and reclamation project Mike Montgomery. It should be noted that the Rays sent two other players, pitcher Wade Davis and infielder Elliot Johnson, to the Royals.
Now, not only did the Royals get Shields for all of 2013, he also has a club option available for 2014 at about $13.5 million. That means he's under control for at least a year, two if the Royals exercise his option (and I see no reason why they wouldn't).
Compare that to Nolasco, he's under control for about 3 months, is trending downward and, while he's been productive for the past few years, is more of a backend guy who's getting by on not allowing homers.
If Shields required two top 100 prospects, Nolasco may require one. He'd more likely yield two guys in the 101-200 range. The Dodgers aren't flush with those types of guys and I'm not sure they'd be willing to part with guys like Joc Pederson or Zach Lee for a 2-3 month rental.
Pass. I don't see the cost/benefit working in the Dodgers' favor. L.A. has gotten enough value out of Capuano and Fife to not need to pursue a rental, especially one who could be superficially overvalued because of his ERA. Plus, it would ensure that Colletti doesn't extend him without seeing how the market values him.
I'd much rather stick with Capuano and Fife for the time being, with a possibility of Magill getting one more shot in the rotation and, if all else fails, call up Zach Lee to see what he can do. As for Nolasco, let him go to the Giants or Padres for a top 100 prospect.