October 15, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco (47) pitches the first inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game four of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agent Rumors: Toronto Blue Jays Circling Ricky Nolasco


It looks like the rumor engine is finally starting to churn for the Toronto Blue Jays, and in a good way. On Saturday we saw reports that the Blue Jays were putting together a package to acquire right-hander Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs, and that sent fans into a tizzy, wondering what kind of return package could be heading back, and hoping that it wouldn’t include either Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman.

Today’s news is a bit more tame, at least in the fact that it will cost the Toronto Blue Jays a bit less in terms of prospects. Money, on the other hand, may be another story.

As reported by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Toronto Blue Jays have joined the Minnesota Twins on the Ricky Nolasco front.

That is the sort of news that we were expecting to see this winter, as the exploits of last winter were thought to push Toronto to using the free agent market this winter more so than the farm system. However, as Cafardo points out, the free agent market for starting pitching has been slow to develop. However, the signings of both Tim Hudson (two-year, $23 million) and Jason Vargas (four-year, $32 million) are likely to impact the bigger fish left on the market, as we discussed earlier this week.

Nolasco is certainly one of the bigger fish, but he’s still a mid-level talent when compared to Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez. MLB Trade Rumors pegged him as earning a three-year, $36 million deal, with Edwin Jackson‘s four-year, $52 million deal being a ceiling. Given the fact that Vargas secured a four-year deal from the Royals of all teams, Nolasco’s people will likely be looking for the fourth year for their 30-year-old client, which certainly puts Jackson’s deal into play a bit more.

Is that a lot to pay out for a number three or four starter or is Nolasco simply a product of this market? Let’s take a look at his stats a bit.

Year W L W-L% ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ WHIP SO/BB
2006 11 11 .500 4.82 35 140.0 157 86 75 20 41 99 90 1.414 2.41
2007 1 2 .333 5.48 5 21.1 26 16 13 3 9 11 81 1.641 1.22
2008 15 8 .652 3.52 34 212.1 192 88 83 28 42 186 124 1.102 4.43
2009 13 9 .591 5.06 31 185.0 188 111 104 23 44 195 85 1.254 4.43
2010 14 9 .609 4.51 26 157.2 169 82 79 24 33 147 92 1.281 4.45
2011 10 12 .455 4.67 33 206.0 244 117 107 20 44 148 84 1.398 3.36
2012 12 13 .480 4.48 31 191.0 214 100 95 18 47 125 91 1.366 2.66
2013 13 11 .542 3.70 34 199.1 195 90 82 17 46 165 101 1.209 3.59
2013 5 8 .385 3.85 18 112.1 112 50 48 11 25 90 100 1.220 3.60
2013 8 3 .727 3.52 16 87.0 83 40 34 6 21 75 101 1.195 3.57
8 Yrs 89 75 .543 4.37 229 1312.2 1385 690 638 153 306 1076 94 1.288 3.52
162 Game Avg. 14 12 .543 4.37 35 202 214 106 98 24 47 166 94 1.288 3.52
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 11/24/2013.

As you can see from his stats above, he’s been a fairly consistent arm, limiting his walks. But his ERA and ERA+ are fairly mediocre considering he has never pitched in a good hitters’ environment, which we obviously know that Rogers Centre is.

However, he’s also played on some fairly poor teams, which has to be taken into consideration as well.

Upon a closer look, courtesy of FanGraphs, Nolasco does have some traits that could paint a better picture. While his lifetime ERA is 4.37, Nolasco has put up a lifetime xFIP of 3.75 and a SIERA of 3.80, which means that he’s actually been slightly better than the defenses behind him. That’s particularly important for a pitcher than has a groundball rate of 41.7% over his career.

Toronto looks to put a strong infield behind their pitchers next season, and the return of Colby Rasmus in center field will certainly make them strong up the middle with Jose Reyes and Ryan Goins as well.

Whether that adds up to a pitcher who could be looking at a four-year deal with an AAV of between $12 million and $14 million, that will need to be Toronto’s decision. However, the Blue Jays are paying Mark Buehrle an AAV of $18.5 million over the next two seasons for similar qualities.

It’s just that kind of market.

Tags: Ricky Nolasco Toronto Blue Jays

  • Andrew van Laar

    Over on Bluebird Banter they are saying they are hearing Sanchez is part of the discussion for Samardzija. I will seriously question AA as a GM if this trade happens. Samardzija is an average starter at best. And he is going from the NL to the AL East. That doesn’t bode well either.

  • Justin Jay

    6-8 5.51 career numbers vs AL East. He’s never faced the Yankees and Tampa Bay seems to have his number. He has a great WHIP against BOS and BAL, poor ERA against BOS, and REALLY bad against TB. He was effective against Toronto in 2 GS.