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  • 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. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I think I'm more interested in getting Kazmir & Hughes than Nolasco and whomever (Arroyo?). Last season was a bounce-back year for Nolasco after a couple years in a row where he gave up a TON of hits and the K rate kept going down. He's also pitched his entire career in the NL.

      Kazmir has red flags too: injuries and ineffectiveness nearly ended his career. But his peak was higher, he did it in the AL, his K rate is higher, he's younger, and he's likely to be a) cheaper, and b) not insistent on a 5 year deal.

      Hughes has been up & down over his career, but a move to Target field should help him, and he's still on the good side of 30.

      I'm not opposed to Arroyo per se, but I'd like the Twins to be a little more aggressive than that. Again, Nolasco's not terrible or anything, but I have trouble with the idea of giving a 4-5 year deal to a guy who has hit 30 and posted an above average ERA+ exactly twice. (and was convincingly below average 4 of the past 5 years)
    1. jcphitman's Avatar
      jcphitman -
      It was a very good article! A nice breakdown of Nolasco.

      It sounds like from what MLBTR said, we aren't as far as people thought we were here on Nolasco, but it is encouraging to see our name in these rumors as what appears to be a serious suitor.

      As for Nolasco and even a 4 (or worse 5) year contract, I still don't get it. I read the article, but looking at his career stats doesn't help me understand. Why? He's never been an amazing pitcher. He's pitched in the NL his entire career. It kind of makes me think Kevin Correia is a poor man's Nolasco in all honesty. Nolasco is better and younger, but not by huge margins IMO to deserve 4 or 5 years. He's on the wrong side of 30 and breakdown is much more possible now than before.

      I see why the Twins are in on Garza. He's on the right side of 30 and has what we need in a pitcher. Plus we developed him and have an idea of what we'd be getting back. I see why we'd go after Hughes. He's not as good as Garza, but being in a pitcher's park and on the right side of 30 helps his cause. I could see Garza getting 5 years from us and I could even see Hughes getting 3-4 years.

      Nolsaso though? Someone help me here. Even Arroyo ... he's 37 and durable, but 3 years? Maybe 2 years, but not 3.

      What am I missing here? Help...
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Quote Originally Posted by jmlease1 View Post
      I think I'm more interested in getting Kazmir & Hughes than Nolasco and whomever (Arroyo?). Last season was a bounce-back year for Nolasco after a couple years in a row where he gave up a TON of hits and the K rate kept going down. He's also pitched his entire career in the NL.

      Kazmir has red flags too: injuries and ineffectiveness nearly ended his career. But his peak was higher, he did it in the AL, his K rate is higher, he's younger, and he's likely to be a) cheaper, and b) not insistent on a 5 year deal.

      Hughes has been up & down over his career, but a move to Target field should help him, and he's still on the good side of 30.

      I'm not opposed to Arroyo per se, but I'd like the Twins to be a little more aggressive than that. Again, Nolasco's not terrible or anything, but I have trouble with the idea of giving a 4-5 year deal to a guy who has hit 30 and posted an above average ERA+ exactly twice. (and was convincingly below average 4 of the past 5 years)

      We all would love to have certain pitchers. But the reality is that the Twins front office have to deal with agents who realistically WANT to place their clients with a team like Minnesota, as well as players THAT WANT to play for a team like Minnesota. If a player and/or agent suggests that a Minnesota tie-in would be explorable, then you pounce on it. You can't wait for a Hughes to say "maybe I will play in Minnesota" if he is avoiding making a discussion commitment or has expressed salary demands above-and-beyond (see Santana) your team is capable of giving, or that a pitcher truly wants to play only for a "winner."

      The only way we (the Twins) can possibly get around something like that is to totally throw an unbelievable contrat at the player -- "Hey, Hughes...we want you. How does $20 mill a year sound, you tell us 3 or 4 years...your choice."

      Otherwise, you go after "friendly" players and make a serious offer "Hey, Ricky, right now, today...we will give you $14 mil for 4 with a $4 million buyout or $15 mill option for year 5. If we don;t hear back from you by tonight, we are moving on tomorrow." A fair offer. If you don't hear back...you got $60 million to easily spend elsewhere.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      We all would love to have certain pitchers. But the reality is that the Twins front office have to deal with agents who realistically WANT to place their clients with a team like Minnesota, as well as players THAT WANT to play for a team like Minnesota. If a player and/or agent suggests that a Minnesota tie-in would be explorable, then you pounce on it. You can't wait for a Hughes to say "maybe I will play in Minnesota" if he is avoiding making a discussion commitment or has expressed salary demands above-and-beyond (see Santana) your team is capable of giving, or that a pitcher truly wants to play only for a "winner."

      The only way we (the Twins) can possibly get around something like that is to totally throw an unbelievable contrat at the player -- "Hey, Hughes...we want you. How does $20 mill a year sound, you tell us 3 or 4 years...your choice."

      Otherwise, you go after "friendly" players and make a serious offer "Hey, Ricky, right now, today...we will give you $14 mil for 4 with a $4 million buyout or $15 mill option for year 5. If we don;t hear back from you by tonight, we are moving on tomorrow." A fair offer. If you don't hear back...you got $60 million to easily spend elsewhere.
      The way to get around it is with our 5-15 prospects. Every deal has a walk away price and the night is still young. Let's see how this plays out.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by kab21 View Post
      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.
      I am dead set against giving any of these guys 4 (or god forbid) 5 year deals. They are not that good. I would go for 3 years (max) for younger guys (Hughes, Johnson maybe, Garza). Correia has one spot, Gibson has one spot. Hopefully Meyer claims a spot next year--Diamond/Deduno gets a spot. In 2016 (hopefully) the young guys in A or lower will start coming up (Stewart, Gonsalves, Thorpe, etc etc) We don't need 34 or 35 year old pitchers hanging on then.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DAM DC Twins Fans View Post
      I am dead set against giving any of these guys 4 (or god forbid) 5 year deals. They are not that good. I would go for 3 years (max) for younger guys (Hughes, Johnson maybe, Garza). Correia has one spot, Gibson has one spot. Hopefully Meyer claims a spot next year--Diamond/Deduno gets a spot. In 2016 (hopefully) the young guys in A or lower will start coming up (Stewart, Gonsalves, Thorpe, etc etc) We don't need 34 or 35 year old pitchers hanging on then.
      Guys that can toss <4.00 ERA's are that good.

      You also greatly overestimate the Twins rotation both next year and down the road.
    1. TwinsAce's Avatar
      TwinsAce -
      Nolasco isn't my favorite pitcher out there, but to give him a 4-5 year deal isn't the end of the world. When people say they don't want to block our young pitchers, they forget that the Twins would always have the option of trading away the older pitcher. As long as Nolasco stays similar to his career marks, he would still have a trade market in year 3 of the deal. And that's only if the Twins have a glut of pitching, something we have no idea will happen for sure.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Some interesting things being said. I agree with those who question the wisdom of signing Nolasco to a 4-year deal and over $40 million. It is *clearly* absurd to do that. The consideration of doing this blows my mind more than the Eric Fryer love and that is bizarre. Those two things, together, however, with this team run by these people . . . perfect sense.
      Nolasco is Correia+. Do people deny this? I am asking. Christ, ARROYO is Correia+. And Arroyo is a 50/50 chance to actually be better over the next two years. Seriously.

      Let me frame this another way: I also think that Trevor May is a 50/50 chance at being better than Nolasco over the next four years. And at a very low fraction of the cost.

      Think about that.

      Signing 4th starters for tens of millions of bucks over several years is going to damage FA signings by this team in the next 3 years.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by TwinsAce View Post
      Nolasco isn't my favorite pitcher out there, but to give him a 4-5 year deal isn't the end of the world. When people say they don't want to block our young pitchers, they forget that the Twins would always have the option of trading away the older pitcher. As long as Nolasco stays similar to his career marks, he would still have a trade market in year 3 of the deal. And that's only if the Twins have a glut of pitching, something we have no idea will happen for sure.
      Another reason not to sign a slightly above average (in his good years!) pitcher to a 4 or 5 (!) year deal: NO ONE trading for him until year 3, 4, or 5. Nolasco wouldn't be traded in 2014 or 2015. No team is dumb enough to do that.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by jay View Post
      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.
      To be fair, you're talking about a player who hasn't played above A-ball, another who the Twins moved through all levels of the minors, and one of the best hitting catchers in the history of the game. None of whom are pitchers. What they continue to do with Buxton will be interesting.

      Not that the Twins had a pitcher that they should have considered recently and they've actually bungled moving players recently who they've moved quickly or had skip levels, so I agree there's far more to this than two opposing methods.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      "Nolasco is Correia+".

      Wouldn't that be the point? To get pitchers into the rotation who are better than Correia? And at this point, isn't money next to meaningless for the Twins, since they have oodles of it going unused, and won't that be the situation for the next half decade at least?
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      "Nolasco is Correia+".

      Wouldn't that be the point? To get pitchers into the rotation who are better than Correia? And at this point, isn't money next to meaningless for the Twins, since they have oodles of it going unused, and won't that be the situation for the next half decade at least?
      That is the one point about trying free agency. There is money to spend. What has it been spent on (Toshi, draft picks, Blackburn and Baker out for a year). It doesn't move to the next year. And the Twins have quite a bit they can spend this year. They lose Correia, Willingham and Doumit next year which is the price of a high-priced free agent with few players getting arbitration raises. They are still salary light going into 2016 and 2017, assuming that your potential free agents are the likes of Plouffe and Parmelee and Swarzak and Fien. Go figure. There is money to "try" something new for the organization. If it fails, it just means ... well, someday we will learn where ALL that unspent money does go.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Would still prefer 2-3 years of Kazmir and 1-2 of Josh Johnson. This will save money(shorter term contracts) and not block the pitchers coming up. If you want to spend major money throw it a Garza(at least he has a high upside and no qualifying offer)
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Issue would be if Garza, Johnson and Kazmir will come here. I would offer more money for the shorter length contracts and see if they take it, if not move on to plan B. But don't wait for the higher ranked pitchers to see what they want to do, make an offer, give them(or their agents) 2 days to accept and if not go to plan B.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      We all would love to have certain pitchers. But the reality is that the Twins front office have to deal with agents who realistically WANT to place their clients with a team like Minnesota, as well as players THAT WANT to play for a team like Minnesota. If a player and/or agent suggests that a Minnesota tie-in would be explorable, then you pounce on it. You can't wait for a Hughes to say "maybe I will play in Minnesota" if he is avoiding making a discussion commitment or has expressed salary demands above-and-beyond (see Santana) your team is capable of giving, or that a pitcher truly wants to play only for a "winner."

      The only way we (the Twins) can possibly get around something like that is to totally throw an unbelievable contrat at the player -- "Hey, Hughes...we want you. How does $20 mill a year sound, you tell us 3 or 4 years...your choice."

      Otherwise, you go after "friendly" players and make a serious offer "Hey, Ricky, right now, today...we will give you $14 mil for 4 with a $4 million buyout or $15 mill option for year 5. If we don;t hear back from you by tonight, we are moving on tomorrow." A fair offer. If you don't hear back...you got $60 million to easily spend elsewhere.
      $14M per year on a 4-5 year for Nolasco isn't fair value, it's stupid value. I realize it only takes one moron to screw up the market on a guy, but let's try hard not to be the first idiot at the buffet. Just because Nolasco's agent likes us doesn't mean he's going to give us a good deal.

      Hughes is not going to be a $20M per year player. Hughes is not going to be a $15M per year player. Moreover the Twins do have a number of selling points to offer a guy like Hughes: willingness to pay him on a 2-3 year deal while he gets time to bounce back and get one more big payday, a ballpark that plays well to his fly-ball tendencies, a media market that isn't going to immediately crush him the first start he's not Andy Pettite or Mike Mussina, and a bunch of young offensive players in the pipeline. Why not court him? Why not get him in to the Twin Cities and have him hang out with Joe Mauer over at Target Field?

      Hughes is a guy that's on my radar because he's a guy that a) is gettable, and b) should have success here at a reasonable price. Nolasco is a guy that already seems over-priced and destined to bust.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      If Nolasco wants crazy money and to many years,Why not Target E.Jackson, he has 3 years left at 13 million per, his numbers have to be close to Nolasco.Then adding Arroyo(2years) and Johnson(1 +1 ..1 year 9 million and an option year at 16 million) and hope 2 of the 3 work out. Jackson while struggling still had better numbers then over half of the 11 pitchers the Twins ran out and has a better upside
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      "Nolasco is Correia+".

      Wouldn't that be the point? To get pitchers into the rotation who are better than Correia? And at this point, isn't money next to meaningless for the Twins, since they have oodles of it going unused, and won't that be the situation for the next half decade at least?
      The only thing I care about at this point is that they spend the money on legitimately good players instead of spending silly money on players that are as good as Corriea. I don't even care what position the players play as long as they are legitimately good.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by beckmt View Post
      Would still prefer 2-3 years of Kazmir and 1-2 of Josh Johnson. This will save money(shorter term contracts) and not block the pitchers coming up. If you want to spend major money throw it a Garza(at least he has a high upside and no qualifying offer)
      The Twins are in no position to be concerned about blocking pitchers coming up. They would have to have an insanely great success rate with their pitching prospects for it to be an issue. And good pitching prospects (blocked) are one of the best assets that a contending team can have in today's trade market.

      Summary - it's not going to be an issue and it's an awesome issue to have if it did happen.
    1. richardkr34's Avatar
      richardkr34 -
      Setting aside 2014 (since the Twins won't be competing), here's what I hope they do and what the rotation looks like in 2015 (pitching-wise):

      1. Sign Garza to a four-year deal. He's consistently put up 3/4 starter numbers for the last six years, has made at least 24 starts in 5/6 of those years, and has had a cumulative era of under 4.00 in every one of those years. He's expressed a desire to come back to Minneapolis and shouldn't be that much more (if at all) expensive than Nolasco, so why not?

      2. Trade Rosario and a throw in (Levi Michael?) for Porcello. Porcello is on the upswing, has two years of control left, the Twins will have money to resign him, and Rosario is expendable with the emergence of Dozier.

      3. Sign Phil Hughes to a two-year deal. He's splits indicate that Yankee stadium is his problem. Two years bridges the gap until 2016 and also allows Meyer to fine tune his approach in AAA for 2014 until post-All Star break.

      4. Draft the highest ceiling arm in the draft. The Twins need to keep the cupboard stocked.

      So, to start 2014, the Twins could have a rotation looking like this:

      1. Garza
      2. Porcello
      3. Correia
      4. Hughes
      5. Gibson

      and have Deduno, Worley, and Diamond in the mix

      Around the trade deadline, I would want the Twins to trade Correia for whatever they could get, getting a prospect (a bad one, I'm sure) and opening up a spot for Meyer. So, on opening day 2015, the rotation would look like this:

      1. Garza
      2. Meyer
      3.Porcello
      4. Gibson
      5. Hughes

      Which isn't a bad set up, considering the 2013 rotation. Hopefully, Stewart, Berrios, Eades, etc would be able to push for rotation spots in 2016 just as Sano, Buxton, and Arica are hitting their strides and the supporting cast of Hicks, Mauer, Pinto, and Dozier are contributing.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      "Nolasco is Correia+".

      Wouldn't that be the point? To get pitchers into the rotation who are better than Correia? And at this point, isn't money next to meaningless for the Twins, since they have oodles of it going unused, and won't that be the situation for the next half decade at least?
      Well I would prefer to get two Correia+ pitchers for the same price, and likely each for one or two fewer years.

      And Correia+ doesn't just mean better than Correia, it means like Correia but somewhat better (strikeouts do that). Correia at 2/10 vs. Nolasco at 4/52? Hell one can get more value from two more Correias! A Correia+ seems to be more in line with 2/20 or 3/30, maybe.
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