Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Twins making a "strong push" for Nolasco

    Employment is not difficult to find if you are a moderately successfully and young starting pitcher in major league baseball. As an example, Ricky Nolasco has several four-year offers in discussion and, as Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal pointed out this morning, the Twins are making a strong push for his services.

    In a conversation last week his agent, Matt Sosnick, said Nolasco is seeking a five-year deal. While multiple teams are offering four-year deals it may be the team which submits a fifth year option that lands the free agent.

    “I look at options more about breaking a stalemate at the end of negotiation,” Sosnick said. “We’re talking to a lot of teams and we’re hoping to get five years on Nolasco. We’re talking with a lot of teams about a deal in the four-year range and what ends up happening is that if no one is willing to go to five year, people will use a club option for a fifth year.”

    The option year, Sosnick said, basically gives the pitcher some extra money in the form of a buyout but also provides the team an option to retain that pitcher’s services if they so desire. Based on reports that the Twins are making a “strong push” for Nolasco, it would be reasonable to assume the two sides are looking at the four-year plus option deal.

    Nolasco, who will be 31 in 2014, has been decisively average over his career but is coming off perhaps his best season since his age-25 season in 2008.

    Over his career, Nolasco’s actual numbers have performed worse than his projected numbers. His career ERA of 4.37 is significantly higher than what his 3.75 expected Fielding Independent rates would suggest. While his peripherals have been strong, his ability to strand runners once they reach base has been sub-par: His 69.2% left-on-base rate has been the sixth-lowest among starters since 2010 (minimum 500 innings pitched); part of the reason behind this is that, with runners on, Nolasco has a .288 average against (10th highest).

    To his credit, Nolasco’s seen a steady decline in his home run rate in each of the last three years, resulting in a career-low of 0.77 HR/9 this last season. One of the biggest changes in 2013 that may have played a role in this decrease was going inside with his fastball more often.


    In general Nolasco eschews the fastball (just 47% vs 50% league average frequency) for his secondary offerings, mostly his slider. The slider has been a very good pitch for him despite some scouts suggesting it has not been as sharp as it had been earlier in his career. This past season, he was able to induce more swing-and-misses on it but, judging by the drop in chases out of the zone, does not have the same bite it once did.


    Durability-wise, he is almost as stalwart as they come. Dating back to 2008, Nolasco has accumulated 1,151.1 innings – the 24th most in baseball over that time – placing him alongside other workhorses. In that stretch, he has no arms issues whatsoever, but a tear in his meniscus (knee) took him out for 46 days in 2010.

    Naturally, the argument could be made that all that was before he turned thirty and the mileage accumulated early in his career could eventually catch up to him on the wrong side of 30. As Twins general manager Terry Ryan said of signing thirty-year-old pitchers last month: “I’d be very careful. I’d be careful”, he said, reflecting on the free agent market, “Because you know what happens with 30-year-olds.”

    Ryan’s concern is merited, both because of injury and increasing ineffectiveness. Nolasco’s contract would extend him in Minnesota from his age-31 to age-35 season and while he has not shown any signs of arm problems, there are plenty of examples of breakdown from even the biggest workhorses in the stable. The Twins recently requested Johan Santana’s medical records but Santana, who had been a perennial 200-inning hurler, started to suffer a multitude of ailments at age 32 which kept his innings total from his age-32 to age-34 seasons to just 117 innings.

    Likewise, effectiveness wanes noticeably as starting pitchers begin to approach their mid-life crisis. According to research produced by Fangraph.com’s Bill Petti and Jeff Zimmerman, a starting pitcher’s skills begin diminishing after the age of thirty and continue to regress from that point forward:


    To be clear, this not meant as an indictment of a potential Nolasco signing, simply a warning of the price of doing business in the free agent market. As Ryan mentioned before, his ideal process of team building would be to avoid the aging talent for the younger arms.

    “In our position I’d rather go after an Alex Meyer, because we are more than one ace away,” Ryan said recently. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. You give me a No. 1 starting pitcher I’ll take him, but we finished 27 games behind the Tigers.”

    Obviously Nolasco does not project as an ‘ace’ or a number one starter (well, outside of the Twins rotation anyway) but he does provide the team with a valuable upgrade who can be filled in around moving forward. Alex Meyer, who has impressed during his time in Arizona this fall, could develop into the front-of-the-rotation type. With progress, Kyle Gibson has the potential of being a two or three in the rotation. A rotation of Meyer-Gibson-Nolasco plus others in 2015 does not sound too bad.

    Like Ryan said, the Twins have work to do and beginning with Nolasco is a decent start.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins making a "strong push" for Nolasco started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 40 Comments
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Likewise, effectiveness wanes noticeably too as well as starting pitchers begin approach their mid-life crisis.
      Obviously Parker backed up this statement, but it's another factor in showing that Terry Ryan isn't wrong in thinking that free agency is not the best way to build a team. You're paying (more than any other team is willing to) for what the pitcher did before he became a free agent at 30-32 years old, but in most cases, you won't get the same caliber of pitcher.

      Obviously the fact that Nolasco has managed to stay healthy this long is great! In my cynical mind, it also increases the likelihood that sometime during his 4-5 year contract, he's going to miss a year or more to go along with not pitching as well.

      It's a scary proposition when $60-100 million is on the line.

      That said, I'd be happy if the Twins signed Nolasco and Kazmir!!
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      The problem with focusing on risk in free agent contracts is that the price already reflects the level of risk. In other words, if someone like Nolasco was risk-free, he would be massively more expensive. The most extreme examples are short term deals for guys like Josh Johnson, but the principle impacts all player contracts.

      The Twins' risk is also mitigated by the fact that they are so far below their self-imposed budget constraints. They can sign multiple guys and still have plenty of space.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Obviously Parker backed up this statement, but it's another factor in showing that Terry Ryan isn't wrong in thinking that free agency is not the best way to build a team.
      Well... Yes. But, if you don't do that (and some teams have proven that you can build World Champions via free agency) you got to follow the Cardinals' and Tigers' model and play young players. Look at Wacha this season. Verlander was in the majors the year after he was drafted. In those teams Gibson and Meyer (and not the likes of Hernandez, Albers et al) would have started for the Twins last season in the majors. I'd give you the injury concerns. But this season, Meyer is healthy. He should be in the starting 5. But the Twins do not do that either.

      Cannot have it both ways, otherwise you do not build winners.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      If you're looking for the perfect player at the perfect price that is certain to perform above his pay grade for the entire contract you'll be losing 96 games every year waiting.

      They have the money, get us some better players so this team is at least watchable next year.

      Please!!
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Well... Yes. But, if you don't do that (and some teams have proven that you can build World Champions via free agency) you got to follow the Cardinals' and Tigers' model and play young players. Look at Wacha this season. Verlander was in the majors the year after he was drafted. In those teams Gibson and Meyer (and not the likes of Hernandez, Albers et al) would have started for the Twins last season in the majors. I'd give you the injury concerns. But this season, Meyer is healthy. He should be in the starting 5. But the Twins do not do that either.

      Cannot have it both ways, otherwise you do not build winners.
      That's a pretty nice false dichotomy. This idea that the Twins don't promote guys is silly. Look at Buxton, look at Arcia, look at Mauer. Also, look at what Wacha and Verlander did in their short time in the minors. None of our guys have done that. Those teams don't have some set perogative that any pitcher they draft will be in the majors the next year. It is very much the exception to every team's rule.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      MLB Trade Rumors had Nolasco and Jimenez in the same ballpark for expected contract (Nolasco 3/36, Jimenez 3/39 or 4/52).

      If you have to go 4/52 for Nolasco (which recent rumors are suggesting), how does that compare to 5/75 for Ervin Santana? Since 2008, Santana's got a 104 ERA+ to Nolasco's 95, with an added 10-20 IP per year to boot. Gives you a little more workhorse/ace potential.
    1. DeepFriedTwinkie's Avatar
      DeepFriedTwinkie -
      Quote Originally Posted by drivlikejehu View Post
      The problem with focusing on risk in free agent contracts is that the price already reflects the level of risk. In other words, if someone like Nolasco was risk-free, he would be massively more expensive. The most extreme examples are short term deals for guys like Josh Johnson, but the principle impacts all player contracts.

      The Twins' risk is also mitigated by the fact that they are so far below their self-imposed budget constraints. They can sign multiple guys and still have plenty of space.
      I really like this comment, and I think that it's a point that is often missed. The "price" that a GM pays for a free agent is already adjusted for the perceived risk of that player geting injured or underperforming. It is also adjusted for the perceived "risk" that the player outperforms.

      Unfortunately, I think that in many cases the team that ends up signing a free agent is often the team that most severely underestimates the risk associated with the contract.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Obviously Parker backed up this statement, but it's another factor in showing that Terry Ryan isn't wrong in thinking that free agency is not the best way to build a team.
      Has anybody ever disputed this? Obviously it is preferable to draft cheap good pitchers, but when you fail at that for a number of years, "overpaying" for a free agent or two is much preferred to punting multiple seasons, especially when you have so few financial commitments over the next 4-5 seasons.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      MLB Trade Rumors had Nolasco and Jimenez in the same ballpark for expected contract (Nolasco 3/36, Jimenez 3/39 or 4/52).

      If you have to go 4/52 for Nolasco (which recent rumors are suggesting), how does that compare to 5/75 for Ervin Santana? Since 2008, Santana's got a 104 ERA+ to Nolasco's 95, with an added 10-20 IP per year to boot. Gives you a little more workhorse/ace potential.
      I wonder if Santana's partially torn UCL is a factor in the Twins interest. He's pitched with it for several years and has been durable, but it's a red flag and you'd have to think a guy with a partially torn UCL may not be the pitcher you want to give a four year contract out to despite his track record. It just seems like a time-bomb.
    1. BigTrane's Avatar
      BigTrane -
      Ok, fine- if Twins sign oldish Arroyo and youngish Nolasco, then I can see stability to the SR, & added credibility for FA signings going forward, without breaking the budget.

      Question is: what are his contract terms, and why would he leave '14 faves LAD for MIN?
    1. zchrz's Avatar
      zchrz -
      Yes free agency is a big gamble, I would like to see them bet on a player with a little more risk and a higher upside. Nolasco has consitency on his side, but his consitency is more of a solid 3rd or 4th starter. The risk is low that he flames out or struggles too much but its also a low probabilty he puts up better numbers and becomes a 2. Ubaldo on the other hand should cost in the same neighborhood of years and money, comes with more risk but could be a solid number 2 even possible ace. I think consistency can be had for cheaper than dominance if they are going to spend big on someone take the risk and the upside.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I am deadset against Nolasco if the contract is for 5 years (or even 4). that's just silly money for someone that has had ERA's of 4.48+ for 4 out of the last 5 years. I would strongly prefer a contract extension to Correia and that shouldn't be viewed as an endorsement.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by zchrz View Post
      Yes free agency is a big gamble, I would like to see them bet on a player with a little more risk and a higher upside. Nolasco has consitency on his side, but his consitency is more of a solid 3rd or 4th starter. The risk is low that he flames out or struggles too much but its also a low probabilty he puts up better numbers and becomes a 2. Ubaldo on the other hand should cost in the same neighborhood of years and money, comes with more risk but could be a solid number 2 even possible ace. I think consistency can be had for cheaper than dominance if they are going to spend big on someone take the risk and the upside.
      There's upside with Nolasco too. He gets Ks quite well and his peripherals scream number 2. Results on the other hand have said otherwise. I'm not sure the advanced metrics are right in calling this bad luck, but I do think that he's maybe one or to "ah ha" moments from suddenly meeting that potential.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
      There's upside with Nolasco too
      Upside? 101 ERA+ last year, four straight years prior below league average (less than 95 ERA+).

      If a guy's upside is "unrealized potential" you should be getting a discount or shorter term on him, like the Hughes 1-2 year suggestions, not the rumored 4/52 for Nolasco.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      What happens in Rice Lake Wisconsin.

      1. When 30 people walk into the only liquor store at the same time.
      2. There are only 20 cases of beer left in the entire store.
      3. All the top brands of beer are gone
      4. Half of the cases left are "Natural Light" "Milwaukee's Best" and "Michelob Ultra".
      5. It's A Friday Night.

      AND... All 30 people got an extra 25 million dollars from a Rice Lake TV deal.

      I'm worried it might have an effect on the price of beer.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      What happens in Rice Lake Wisconsin.

      1. When 30 people walk into the only liquor store at the same time.
      2. There are only 20 cases of beer left in the entire store.
      3. All the top brands of beer are gone
      4. Half of the cases left are "Natural Light" "Milwaukee's Best" and "Michelob Ultra".
      5. It's A Friday Night.

      AND... All 30 people got an extra 25 million dollars from a Rice Lake TV deal.

      I'm worried it might have an effect on the price of beer.
      LIKE.

      But does it mean you don't buy the beer? And doesn't this happen every Friday night?
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      LIKE.

      But does it mean you don't buy the beer? And doesn't this happen every Friday night?
      I don't know but that TV deal could make this Friday night different than the others.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      I don't know but that TV deal could make this Friday night different than the others.
      RB, when you ran over the Business Manager carrying her coffee, did you get one of those sticky things for your helmet?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      Upside? 101 ERA+ last year, four straight years prior below league average (less than 95 ERA+).

      If a guy's upside is "unrealized potential" you should be getting a discount or shorter term on him, like the Hughes 1-2 year suggestions, not the rumored 4/52 for Nolasco.
      Precisely this. I am very confused by the Nolasco situation. Anyway, it would seem like the Twins could get any two of Kazmir, Hughes, Haren, Arroyo, Johnson, and the like for roughly $50 million over less than 4 years.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      RB, when you ran over the Business Manager carrying her coffee, did you get one of those sticky things for your helmet?
      Yes I did
      Attachment 6044

      BTW... Any resemblance between my helmet and an Ohio State helmet is purely coincidental.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.