Ricky Nolasco Rumors
With one-fourth of the season in the books, let's have a look around some injury situations and how they might impact the developing trade market.
- The Cardinals and Yankees provide an interesting case study as we enter the second quarter of the season. Both have excellent records and lead their division. Both have sizeable payrolls as well as large portions of those payrolls sitting idle on the DL. Both have had to insert players onto their active roster that they did not anticipate. But, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch well explains, the source of those substitute bodies has been drastically different. While the Yankees spent well over $20MM to bring in players like Lyle Overbay, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells -- all of whom are 34 or older -- the Cards reached into their minor league system. Remarkably, St. Louis has plugged all of its holes with players making league minimum, including young pitchers John Gast, Shelby Miller, and Seth Maness.
- The Goold piece also includes some valuable insight from GM John Mozeliak. According to Mozeliak, amongst the team's Double-A and Triple-A rosters, "there is almost at any one position, if we needed help at the big leagues, someone we could call on from there." He acknowledges that such cheap, youthful depth cannot always be achieved, and says the team is prepared to pursue other markets as necessary. "I don't want us to go down the path where we feel like we've created this functional model and don't utilize a really robust pro scouting model that makes sure we understand the trade market and understand the free agent market. We can't be scared of those." Yet, by looking internally first, the team has managed to retain salary flexibility to add outside impact down the line. "This organization's way now of staying healthy is not being tied to those outside markets to fill needs," says Mozeliak. "Having some young players step up like they are now gives us additional flexibility when we're going to need it."
- The Cards' internal depth will once again be put to use with starter Jaime Garcia now staring at a strong possibility of season-ending shoulder surgery, writes Goold. Even with fellow starter Jake Westbrook also stuck on the DL, the team has multiple options among its current relief corps and Triple-A rotation that make a look outside the organization unlikely. Of course, it remains to be seen whether Garcia's replacement(s) can match his strong start to the year. He had thrown 55 1/3 innings of 3.58 ERA baseball to open the season. Veteran starter Chris Carpenter is increasingly shaping up as a viable mid-season option for the club. But any setback in his surprising recovery, or hiccups among the team's young hurlers, could lead St. Louis to consider eventually utilizing some of its salary reserves and young minor league depth in a trade.
- The Braves are another National League contender dealing with injured arms. As Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com's Matt Snyder writes, Eric O'Flaherty appears likely to join fellow setup man Jonny Venters as a season-ending Tommy John patient. While the team seems likely to utilize internal options to fill in for the present, the loss of its two late-inning lefties leaves the team with just one southpaw in the pen, Luis Avilan. Ultimately, then, Atlanta could be forced to explore the trade market to re-establish its depth as the season wears on.
- Teams shopping for starters at the trade deadline appear likely to find a limited supply of attractive arms, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Two Cubs pitchers headline the developing market, with Scott Feldman shaping up as the surprise top option at the moment. (Matt Garza, of course, will begin his potential audition on Tuesday.) In addition to several other well-documented trade candidates in Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins and the Astros' Bud Norris and Lucas Harrell, Olney pegs the Padres' Jason Marquis and Edinson Volquez as likely available. Meanwhile, Bartolo Colon of the Athletics and Cliff Lee of the Phillies could also be dealt, writes Olney, with the A's having other internal options and the Phils still weighing how to proceed with their excellent (but expensive) 35-year-old co-ace.
The day after he was rocked for six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, the Phillies placed lefty John Lannan on the DL with a strained quadriceps in his left knee. There's no word yet on who will replace him in the rotation, but he could be out six-to-eight weeks. Tonight, the fourth-place Phillies and Cole Hamels host Adam Wainwright and the first-place Cardinals. Elsewhere in the NL East:
- "Let's just say if this continues, certainly we've gotta start visiting that here pretty soon," Mets manager Terry Collins told Mike Francesa of WFAN in regard to a question about quality reinforcements including top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. The Mets' rotation has struggled beyond Matt Harvey and Jon Niese. GM Sandy Alderson was noncommittal, telling Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, "It was always a case that it would be Zack’s sufficiency and the major-league team’s need. If those two things merge, the need and the performance converge, then it is a possibility. That could happen sooner or it could happen later." Ackert hears that people within the organization privately do not feel Wheeler is ready, plus the Mets would like to avoid the pitcher achieving Super Two status after the 2015 season (necessitating a promotion in mid-June or later).
- Meanwhile, another top Mets prospect won't be seeing Citi Field anytime soon. Catcher Travis D'Arnaud, acquired from Toronto in the R.A. Dickey trade, fractured a bone in his left foot yesterday in a Triple-A game.
- The Nationals' depth is on display, explains James Wagner of the Washington Post, with Kurt Suzuki seamlessly taking over as the starting catcher after Wilson Ramos suffered a hamstring injury.
- Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons is now represented by SFX, MLBTR has learned. He'd previously been with The Sparta Group, up until the August switch. A few new additions to our agency database include Jonathan Gray (advised by Jay Franklin of BBI Sports Group), Oswaldo Arcia (Martin Arburua), and Tony Cingrani (Curtis Dishman).
- "He's decent for a club that needs a starter. There are worse No. 5 starters in the big leagues right now, but he's not the pitcher he used to be," a scout told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in reference to the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco, Miami's highest-paid player by a long-shot at $11.5MM, is a strong candidate to be traded this summer.
After the Marlins' blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays this winter that saw much of the team's talent jettisoned north of the border, Ricky Nolasco made it known that he wanted to be sent elsewhere. As spring training nears, the 30-year-old says that he is ready to put that aside and focus on getting ready for the 2013 season. “I’m just moving forward," said Nolasco, according to Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. “Anything that has happened in the past is not going to be talked about anymore." The right-hander could be moved before the trade deadline as he is entering the final year of his contract. Here's a look at some minor notes out of Miami..
- A handful of Marlins on the 40-man roster are out of options and the ones to keep an eye on are outfielders Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano plus left-handed pitchers Wade LeBlanc and Mike Dunn, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Craig Tatum, a 29-year-old non-roster invitee, informed the Marlins he is retiring, according to Spencer. The catcher spent three years in the big leagues with the Reds and Orioles and hit .223/.291/.264 during that stretch.
- It has been weeks since the Marlins heard from former Dolphins quarterback Pat White, and Spencer sees that as an indication that he might not accept their invitation to minor league camp, which starts soon. The former West Virginia standout is also considering a two-year contract offer the Canadian Football League and has spoken to representatives for at least eight NFL teams.
Happy 60th birthday to former Mets third baseman Ray Knight, whose World Series MVP performance in 1986 helped lift the Amazins to their most recent championship. Here's the latest from the NL East...
- J.P. Howell is still the Nationals' top choice amongst available left-handed relievers, reports Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Several other teams are known to have interest in Howell besides the Nats, who missed out on another southpaw bullpen option when Mike Gonzalez agreed to sign with the Brewers today.
- The Nationals and Adam LaRoche are no closer to an agreement, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. LaRoche appears to be insistent on a three-year deal while the Nats aren't willing to offer him more than two years. The Red Sox have also shown interest in LaRoche but not for three years.
- The Mets showed some interest in Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweeted last week, though the "sense is that [Oakland] will keep him." Crisp, 33, hit .259/.325/.418 in 508 PAs with the A's in 2012 and was also 39-for-43 in stolen base attempts. Crisp is set to earn $7MM in 2013 and the A's have a $7.5MM option on him for 2014 that can be bought out for $1MM, plus he'd receive a $250K bonus if he's traded.
- The Marlins have spent much of the winter looking for center field help but haven't found a fit, leaving Justin Ruggiano as the favorite to win the job, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes as part of a reader mailbag. Frisaro believes Miami hasn't been too ardent in looking for a center fielder since prospect Christian Yelich could be ready for the majors by 2014 or even late next season.
- Also from Frisaro, the Marlins plan to keep Ricky Nolasco "at least for much of the first half of the season." Nolasco is entering the last year of his contract and has already said he'd prefer a trade out of Miami, so the right-hander is a good bet to be moved before the trade deadline. The Marlins told teams during the Winter Meetings that Nolasco wasn't available.
- Even though the Marlins aren't shopping Giancarlo Stanton, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki thinks it's a moot point for the Phillies, who don't have the minor league depth necessary to acquire the slugger even if the Fish did make him available. I'd also add that the Marlins are unlikely to deal Stanton to another NL East team, though the Fish have been known to deal stars (such as Dan Uggla) within their division if the price is right.
- From earlier today on MLBTR, the Mets were looking for relief pitching and the Marlins had only very mild interest in Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez.
The latest on some potential trade scenarios from around MLB...
- The Royals called the Rockies about Luke Hochevar, but nothing has materialized, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter). The Royals tendered Hochevar a contract before acquiring James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays, which means they’re responsible for his projected $4.4MM salary. Hochevar would have been a better fit in Colorado if he had hit the open market as a non-tendered player.
- The Athletics are likely to explore trade options to acquire a shortstop now that Stephen Drew is off of the market, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (on Twitter). The Red Sox agreed to sign Drew for $9.5MM, which is “quite a bit more” than Oakland offered, according to Slusser. Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Dee Gordon are among the shortstops who could be traded in my view.
- The Marlins would have interest in a Ricky Nolasco for Peter Bourjos type of deal, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (on Twitter). The Angels seek pitching depth and the Marlins are willing to trade Nolasco. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote today about the possibility of a Nolasco-Bourjos swap, noting that Miami has longstanding interest in the Angels outfielder.
Teams inquiring on Ricky Nolasco's availability are being told by the Marlins that the right-hander won't be traded, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (via Twitter). Nolasco's agent Matt Sosnick told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick yesterday that his client would prefer to be dealt, though he hadn't formally requested a trade.
Taking into account the blockbuster deal the Marlins consummated last month, it seems that Nolasco would be a logical trade candidate for Miami. He's set to earn an eight-digit salary in 2013, and doesn't necessarily seem to fit in the team's long-term plans. However, even if he were available, he likely wouldn't net a significant return unless the Marlins were willing to pay a portion of his salary.
Tuesday, 1:42am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Cubs and Yankees have also checked in on Escobar. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also recently confirmed that the A's are in ongoing discussions with the Marlins about Escobar.
Monday, 9:05pm: A's GM Billy Beane met with Marlins officials today, hears MLB.com's Jane Lee. However, Lee does not know if the meeting involved Escobar.
6:23pm: The Rays are pursuing Escobar and the A's could be in play, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
5:58pm: The Marlins are "actively shopping" shortstop Yunel Escobar, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. The Marlins are in trade talks with at least two teams, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Escobar, acquired in last month's blockbuster trade/salary dump with the Blue Jays respresents one of the Marlins' bigger contracts at $5MM. The Marlins also acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in the trade, so Escobar has been penciled in as the team's third baseman.
The Marlins' highest-paid player, pitcher Ricky Nolasco, would prefer a trade, agent Matt Sosnick told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Neither Nolasco nor Sosnick has directly requested a trade, however, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Nolasco, 30 in December, posted a 4.48 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.85 HR/9, and 46.6% groundball rate in 191 innings this year. He'll earn $11.5MM in 2013.
The Mets are talking R.A. Dickey trades, the Marlins' highest-paid player wants out and the team is shopping its second-highest, and the Phillies have moved on to other outfielders with Angel Pagan off the board. More from around the NL East...
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo does not "see a fit financially or term-wise" with free agent lefty Sean Burnett, he told reporters including Mark Zuckerman today, but he won't rule anything out as the team seeks a second lefty in the bullpen to pair with the newly re-signed Zach Duke.
- Braves GM Frank Wren spent part of the day talking to the agents of free agent bench candidates, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien says the team is believed to have an offer out to bring back outfielder Reed Johnson.
- Wren told reporters including MLB.com's Mark Bowman that while no player is untouchable, shortstop Andrelton Simmons is "unreachable." Pitching prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado aren't off-limits, but "if we’re going to trade one of those guys it’s going to be a significant deal," explained Wren.
- Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post has more from Nolasco's agent Matt Sosnick, who explained that his client would "be a completely happier player playing somewhere else."
- Team president David Samson discussed the trade, management's reasoning behind the move and how the Marlins are reacting to the negative publicity in a radio interview with Dan Le Batard on 790 AM Radio (Steven Cuce of SportsRadioInterviews.com has a partial transcript).
- Also from the interview (passed on by Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post), Samson said that Ricky Nolasco won't be traded this winter and will be a Marlin in 2013 unless "the phone rings and something crazy happens."
- The Marlins' team policy of not giving no-trade clauses has kept Scott Boras from directing his clients to Miami for the last 16 years, Boras tells Bob Nightengale of USA Today. "I've never had a franchise player there because it was just not something my client wanted to risk," Boras said. "They (Marlins executives) were always upfront about it. They told me, 'We don't do no-trade clauses.' But it's very difficult to sell an expectancy to a player knowing that it might last for only one year."
- The Marlins talked to the Diamondbacks about Jose Reyes before eventually including Reyes in the Toronto deal, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. The D'Backs are known to be looking for help at third base and shortstop, despite acquiring Cliff Pennington earlier this month. We heard yesterday that Miami had also discussed Reyes with the Red Sox prior to the big trade.
The Marlins aren’t done yet. One day after agreeing to a blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays, they’re shopping outfielder/first baseman Logan Morrison, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post (on Twitter). Furthermore, several general managers expect Ricky Nolasco to be traded as well.
The Yankees are among the teams with an interest in Nolasco, Erik Boland of Newsday reports (on Twitter). The right-hander has one year and $11.5MM remaining on his contract with Miami. The Rockies had interest in Nolasco last winter and could inquire about him, Troy Renck of the Denver Post suggested this morning (on Twitter).
The Marlins do not intend to trade Giancarlo Stanton, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports. The sides are not currently discussing a long-term deal, but the slugger "pretty much remains untouchable" for 2013, according to Frisaro.