It was only a couple of months ago, after the firing of Ozzie Guillen and the dismantling of the 2012 Miami Marlins, that Ricky Nolasco was very clear about wanting out.
He’d gone just short of requesting a trade from the team, getting his agent to say that he would prefer to be moved, but was kept by Miami through the off-season despite his intentions.
As a contracted employee of the Marlins, there wasn’t too much the 30-year old could do about that. What he could do, however, is make himself as valuable as possible, and give the team an incentive to move him in the upcoming season.
Or, as the righty puts it, he’s “just moving forward”.
Nolasco is, after all, in the final year of his contract, and is the highest-paid player on the team with a $11.5 million salary.
And if we know anything about Marlins owner Jeffery Loria and his partner-in-crime, David Samson, that kind of salary is one that the team won’t want to want to pay in full, especially in a year where the Marlins have essentially no hope of contending.
Until that happens though, Nolasco seems to be ready to keep his feelings to himself, saying “anything that has happened in the past is not going to be talked about anymore.”
It might not be the best situation for the less-than-pleased pitcher to be in, as he’ll asked to lead a rotation for the first time in his career as a Marlins player; but, Nolasco will try his best to “stay level-headed”, despite the trade rumors that will certainly be around him all season long.
That’s part of his job after all, and being a malcontent isn’t exactly going to endear the pending free agent to his potential suitors during, or after this season.
He’ll need his performance to bounce back too, or there might not be much of a choice for the Marlins than to keep him. Though Nolasco posted a four-year low 4.48 ERA over 191 innings in 2012, just about every other indicator of his performance is trending the wrong way as he heads into his 30s.
Nolasco’s strikeout rate has seen a four-year decline, from 9.49 K/9 in 2009 to 5.89 last season, something that’s probably related to the decline in his velocity over that same span (average fastball at 91.5 mph in 2009, 90 in 2012).
Making matters worse is that his walk rates are experiencing the same trend, and these are all things that the starter will look to correct in what will be his final season in a Marlins uniform.
Yes, though he didn’t come out and say it, Nolasco isn’t going to be back with the Marlins in 2014. But if he can’t keep his numbers from continually declining, he will only be eliminating places where he might be able to play by then.
That should enough to keep the righty focused, and to put the negativity about the team behind him going into the 2013 season. “Otherwise,” as the new Marlins ace says, “it’s going to be bad for everybody.”