After a few trades yesterday, it’s time to heat up the trade rumors again as we focus on another possible Washington Nationals trade target in Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco has spent his entire career with the (Florida) Miami Marlins, and has never pitched in a pennant race or in any meaningful games mostly because he is part of the Marlins organization, where winning is trumped by saving money.
Over his career, Nolasco is 80-72 with a 4.45 ERA, and will hit free agency at the end of the season as a 30-year old. Moving a guy like Nolasco is typical Marlins strategy: trade established, higher paid players for young prospects, develop them, and trade them again to avoid paying any large amount of money or be a competitive team.
In fact, it is pretty shocking Nolasco made it as far as he did with Miami, because he will make $11 million this year and is still owed $5.6 million.
So, is Nolasco a viable trade option for Washington, and if he is, is he worth acquiring?
Well, let’s take a look. In his career pitching in each NL East ballpark, Nolasco sports a career record of 23-22 with a 3.91 ERA, allowing 381 hits in 368.1 innings pitched. That’s pretty solid numbers. The biggest blemish is against Washington’s biggest foe this year, the Atlanta Braves, whom Nolasco sports a 5.34 ERA against, with a 3-5 record. Nolasco’s best ERA is against — you guessed it — Washington with a 4-2 record and a 2.32 ERA, with a 6-2 record and a 3.25 ERA against the Philadelphia Phillies right behind that.
However, Nolasco struggles in interleague play with a 7-11 record and a 5.03 ERA. That may steer Mike Rizzo in another direction, as Washington still has matchups slated against the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals on the road.
The bottom line is this: Nolasco is a solid, yet unspectacular 30-year old who has most likely reached his potential and will not fetch the Marlins much in a trade because of that. He has spent most of his career in large, pitcher-friendly parks in SunLife Stadium and Marlins Park, and yet he is 31-36 with a 4.56 ERA.
The team that acquires Nolasco is getting a fourth or fifth starter, if not a fifth starter or a swing man. That is all they are getting. Should Washington pursue him? Sure, why not, but only if they are desperate.