On August 16 of this past season, Ricky Nolasco started for the Miami Marlins in the opening game of a 4-game weekend set in Coors Field. Alex White started for the Rockies, although everyone involved knew he was not long for that game because of the piggyback-4-man-rotation that was never paired pitching, something the team has since discarded. Speaking of changes since this past August, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, and Mark Buehrle all still played for the Marlins on that date. How quickly things change.
Nolasco pitched well in that game. In fact, it could be argued that the way he performed that night is exactly the type of gutsy starting pitching the Rockies should covet as they try to turn things around. Nolasco was far from spectacular, giving up 5 runs over the course of 8 innings and actually taking the loss in the game as his team fell 5-3. Still, he struck out 7, gobbled up innings in a tough environment, and gave his team a chance to win. For the season, he logged a 12-13 record with a 4.48 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 125 K’s. So the question is, should the Rockies look to add a pitcher like Nolasco to ease the transition of key youngsters like White and Tyler Chatwood?
With the Miami Marlins making a sham of their new stadium, their hype from last year, and themselves, another one of their famous fire sales is underway. The headline deal took place yesterday as they shipped all of their big-name, star-quality talent (along with their back-loaded contracts) to the Toronto Blue Jays. But that does not mean the sale is over, even if the remaining available players will draw fewer headlines. Enter Nolasco:
Nolasco is due to make $11.3 million in 2013, an obvious hang-up in any potential deal, because goodness knows that the Marlins will expect whichever team wants Nolasco to eat most of that salary. Would it make sense for the Rockies to take on a pitcher with a meaty contract after Jorge De La Rosa exercised his expensive player option earlier this offseason? We can usually assume that ownership has some money to spend if they deem it necessary, so the contract might not be an impossible obstacle. Philosophically it might make sense to look for a pitcher like Nolasco, especially if the offense thinks it can re-assert its home dominance this season under new coaches Walt Weiss and Dante Bichette.
On the other hand, the pitching staff might be too far away from relevance to think that adding a veteran like Nolasco makes sense. They are in the midst of a transition away from their paired pitching “experiment” and still need to hire a new pitching coach. The timing might not be right to pursue a guy like Nolasco just yet.
For now, the Rockies should stay away from the Miami fire sale. But if it continues later into the offseason when the Rockies’ situation has crystallized a bit more, Nolasco might make more sense and that answer might change.