Ricky Nolasco appeared to be off-limits as recently as July, but the Marlins may have changed their stance on the righty. The team will give serious thought to trading Nolasco this offseason, a source who spoke to a front office member told Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The biggest issue with Nolasco is his performance; he posted a 4.67 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.87 HR/9, and 45.1% groundball rate this year in 206 innings. In the past three seasons, Nolasco has posted SIERAs of 3.23, 3.37, and 3.64. However, the ERAs haven't matched up: 5.06, 4.51, and 4.67. The problem is that Nolasco has been so darn hittable, at about ten per nine innings over 2009-11. Nolasco's batted balls have been resulting in hits about 32% of the time, with line drives a frequent outcome.
Nolasco's velocity took a dip this year, as did his strikeout rate. But he remained extremely stingy with free passes, and showed signs of being able to prevent longballs too. There will probably be several sabermetric-inclined teams that consider Nolasco a buy-low candidate, especially if they can put him in front of a stronger defense.
On a personal level, Marlins manager Jack McKeon seemed to question Nolasco's determination, telling Rodriguez, "I can't figure him out. He's got too good of stuff to be a 10-12 pitcher...He better look in the mirror and see if he can make an adjustment or two. Evidently, the hitters are making adjustments to him."
Nolasco, 28, signed a three-year extension in December last year. He's owed $20.5MM over the next two seasons. I think the Marlins will be faced with a Wandy Rodriguez-type situation: there will be teams willing to take on that entire contract, but then the players offered won't be terribly appealing. We've seen in the past that when the Marlins want to move a player they do it, even if they don't appear to be getting great value for him. So it wouldn't be surprising to see Nolasco traded in November for a less-than-stellar return, freeing up cash for the Marlins to pursue a replacement.