After about a month’s worth of trade rumors surrounding Miami Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco, the Los Angeles Dodgers finally pulled the trigger on a deal for the veteran right-hander Saturday afternoon.
Thankfully, the Dodgers willingness and ability to take on the remaining $5.7 million of Nolasco’s contract allowed for the very little in terms of talent, to head to the Marlins in return. Three pitchers, only one in the the Dodgers top 20 prospect list, were sent to Miami as part of the deal.
For the sake of stability and depth in the rotation, the trade for Nolasco is clearly a big win for a team known to lose more often than not when trading prospects for veterans.
Given Nolasco’s numbers in comparison to either Stephen Fife, whose performance will most likely regress soon , or Chris Capuano, who has been downright awful his past two starts, the back end of the rotation is definitely upgraded.
Fife’s walk rate of 2.40 BB/9 is down this season from 4.05 in 2012, allowing for his FIP and xFIP to have dropped significantly as well. More than likely, this won’t continue and while Fife’s performance has been commendable, the Dodgers can not rely on him as the season wears on.
Capuano’s crashed back to earth after a pretty strong 2012 season in which he finished with a 3.72 ERA, the best of his career. In 52 innings and 10 starts this season, Capuano has totalled a 5.19 ERA which would be the worst of his career if it remains that high. Essentially every one of Capuano’s negative pitching categories are in the red compared to last season. He is walking more, stranding less men on base and has a higher batting average against. Some of this is bad luck, with a .321 BABIP against him compared to .284 a year ago, but again the Dodgers can not rely on him when pursuing a playoff berth.
Nolasco’s season has been highlighted by his K/9 taking a jump to 7.21 after dropping significantly the past two seasons. His ERA is the best it has been since 2008, despite his FIP and xFIP sitting not too far off his general career marks. Nolasco will not blow anyone away with gaudy numbers, but his presence will help the Dodgers feel safer every fifth day. A native of Corona, Calif, Nolasco now gets to pitch in a pennant race for the team he grew up cheering for.
As for the three men who head to Miami’s organization, none of them should cause Dodger fans to lose any sleep.
Josh Wall, who Dodger fans have seen for 13 appearances in the past season and a half, isn’t much of a loss. With the Dodgers passing Wall over in favor of calling up Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez the past few weeks, the 26-year-old righty had no future in the Los Angeles bullpen.
The same could be said about the 25-year-old Steven Ames, who has yet to ever pitch in the majors. In Albuquerque this season, Ames walk rate is up to 3.4 BB/9 and strikeout rate down to 7.6 K/9. This is after totalling a 2.2 BB/9 and 10.6 K/9 in AA Chattanooga during part of his age 23 season and all of the 2012 season there. The decline in those ratios does not bode well for success at the major league level.
Lastly, Angel Sanchez, the one true prospect headed to Miami, is not much of a loss either. Signed in July 2010, Sanchez has not moved about high A ball at the age of 23. After spending the entire 2012 season in Rancho Cucamonga, Sanchez moved back down to low A Great Lakes to start 2013 until his promotion back to Rancho a short time ago. Given the Dodgers’ depth when it comes to young pitching, his departure from the system is hardly a huge loss.
The Dodgers also acquired $197,000 in international signing money, a nice throw in on a deal they had already won.
While it obviously will be up to Nolasco’s performance in the final three months of the season, all indications are the Dodgers should be very satisfied with waiting out the Marlins demands. With a few NL West rivals rumored to be interested in Nolasco as well, keeping him from the competition can be seen as another bonus.