7:55pm: The Royals announced the signing.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale provides a more in-depth breakdown of Nolasco’s incentive structure (Twitter link). The veteran righty would unlock a $25K bonus for making his 10th start of the season, and he’d earn an additional $25K for each start up through his 19th of the year. For a pitcher with Nolasco’s recent durability, that’s a highly attainable set of bonuses, though he’s obviously far from a lock to even make the big league roster.
5:15pm: The Royals and Nolasco are in agreement on a minor league contract, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). He’ll earn a $1.5MM base salary if he makes the Major League roster and has another $250K of incentives available to him. Nolasco’s deal also has a March 24th out clause.
3:54pm: The two sides are discussing a minor league contract, reports MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan (via Twitter), though he cautions that the deal is not yet complete.
3:32pm: The Royals are closing in on an agreement with free-agent right-hander Ricky Nolasco, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Nolasco, a client of Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon, will provide some depth for a thin group of rotation candidates with the Royals, who recently lost righty Jesse Hahn to the 60-day DL due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.
Last season, the 35-year-old Nolasco wrapped up a four-year, $49MM deal initially signed with the Twins, though he played out the final season of that contract with the Angels after being flipped to them at the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline. Signed to serve as a durable innings eater in the middle of the Twins’ rotation, Nolasco lost much of his first two years of that deal to injury.
He bounced back to make 65 starts from 2016-17, though the results in that time weren’t what either the Twins or Halos would’ve hoped; over the past two seasons, Nolasco has soaked up 378 2/3 innings between the two clubs but struggled to a 4.66 ERA and averaged 1.4 homers per nine innings pitched.
To his credit, Nolasco has managed to keep his velocity steady, sitting in the 90-91 mph range into his mid-30s, and he posted a career-best 10.9 percent swinging-strike rate with the Angels in 2017. That said, he was still far too hittable — 205 hits in 181 innings — and yielded a 37.6 percent hard-contact rate that ranked as the fourth-highest among all qualified starters.
With the Royals, Nolasco will vie for a spot in a rotation that will include Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel. Jake Junis and Nate Karns are both candidates for the final two spots, with Junis turning in a solid rookie effort in 2017 and Karns looking for a comeback following surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. Wily Peralta, Eric Skoglund, Sam Gaviglio and Trevor Oaks are among the other rotation candidates on the 40-man roster.