It is no secret that the Miami Marlins would love to trade impending free agent Ricky Nolasco and his $11.5 million contract. It should come as no surprise that reports are surfacing that the New York Yankees are reportedly among the teams showing interest in the 30-year-old right-hander. The Yankees had shown interest in Nolasco earlier in the winter before Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte re-signed with the team.
The Yankees’ rotation already features C.C. Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Phil Hughes and David Phelps with Ivan Nova and Vidal Nuno providing depth and Michael Pineda already rehabbing from his shoulder injury. Rotation depth is hardly a priority for the Yankees at the moment. However, GM Brian Cashman will always investigate any avenue he thinks could help the Yankees get back to a World Series.
Nolasco has pitched to a 3.61 ERA and 7.32 K/9 ratio across 12 starts and 82.1 innings, by far his best season in a while. However, Nolasco’s year has not been without some hiccups and his numbers look much better than his actual effectiveness. He still projects as a third or fourth starter on a contending team but the question is should the Yankees surrender prospects for a third or fourth starter when their offense is clearly the area that needs improvement?
The Yankees’ pitching staff has surrendered an average of 3.75 runs per game, the best mark in the American League. Meanwhile, the offense is averaging 4 runs per game, the fifth worst rate in the AL. To put that in perspective, the 1990 Yankees team which featured offensive luminaries like Jesse Barfield, Mel Hall, an injured Don Mattingly, Steve Sax, Roberto Kelly, Steve Balboni, Alvaro Espinosa and Matt Nokes scored just 3.73 runs per game. Yes, despite a 37-26 record, the Yankees offense is scoring at a clip just above a 1990 team that had a 67-95 record.
While Nolasco wouldn’t require a large investment of prospects to acquire him, the Yankees would be better off trying to acquire a bat. Of course, the Yankees could acquire Nolasco and then try to flip Hughes, Nova, Nuno or Phelps for a bat but Phelps might be the Yankees’ best trade chip and he has pitched fairly well and might not be worth surrendering. Hughes is an impending free agent so the return might not be the great to warrant a trade and Nova’s value is at its lowest point in his career as he currently tries to work out the kinks at Triple-A. Nuno has a great track record in the minors but doesn’t have overpowering stuff and, as we all know, “stuff” sells in Major League Baseball.
Right now, the Yankees look like they are just doing their due diligence. There isn’t much to see here at this point but things can change in an instant and this is worth following.