The Yankees have been “pushing Ivan Nova in trade talks” over the past few weeks, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney, citing rival executives (Twitter link). The Nova report comes on the heels of indicators that the Yankees are also nearing a trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, so it seems that further rental pieces could continue to be shopped by GM Brian Cashman in the coming week.
The 29-year-old Nova had a brutal month of June but has otherwise been a solid piece for the Yankees’ pitching staff this season. His overall ERA sits at 4.65 in 93 innings of work, though he’s allowed just one run in three of his past four outings. Nova has also averaged 7.0 strikeouts against 2.1 walks per nine innings pitched and recorded a very strong 54.9 percent ground-ball rate, so there’s reason to believe that there could yet be improvement on the horizon in what is his first full season back from 2014 Tommy John surgery. (He did throw 94 innings last year but was sidelined until late June due to said surgery.) Nova’s velocity isn’t quite up to the 93 mph he averaged prior to Tommy John surgery, but he’s close to that mark, averaging 92.5 mph this year. Home runs have long been a problem for Nova, but he’s seen his homer-to-flyball ratio spike to nearly 21 percent this season, which is almost certain to regress moving forward. Escaping the homer-happy confines of Yankee Stadium certainly wouldn’t hurt, in that regard.
Nova is earning $4.1MM this season in his final year before reaching the free agent market. He’s still owed about $1.55MM of that sum through season’s end, making him a fairly affordable piece. While Nova certainly doesn’t have a track record of dominance, he’s displayed over the course of his career that he’s capable of delivering an ERA in the mid- to low-4.00s with a roughly average number of strikeouts, good control and plenty of ground-balls. For a club that’s hunting for innings at the back of its rotation as opposed to a front-line arm — the Marlins, Mets, Orioles and Tigers come to mind as a few speculative possibilities — he could be a reasonably priced piece, both financially and in terms of prospect cost.