For a couple weeks now, I’ve been closely watching the Miami Marlins’ efforts to deal Ricky Nolasco. As one of the better rental starting pitchers on the market, a Nolasco deal is going to impact the Cubs’ efforts to deal Matt Garza in a variety of ways, including by impacting the market’s desire/need for pitching, and by arguably setting a “floor price” on a Garza deal.
Well, it sounds like after at least a week of being on the verge of a deal, the Dodgers are finally going to get Nolasco. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Dodgers and Marlins are “getting close” to a deal that would send three prospects to the Marlins, with the Dodgers taking on all of Nolasco’s remaining salary ($5.5 million). Marlins beat writer Joe Frisaro says that although the deal is for three pitchers, only two are “prospects.” Rosenthal described the players involved as not “upper echelon” types. Frisaro expects the deal to be done tonight.
I’ll keep watching this deal this evening and update you as it comes to pass (or doesn’t), together with my thoughts on how the deal impacts the Garza market.
The initial reaction – and not speaking to the Marlins’ return – is that this is good news for the Cubs. The Dodgers are arguably in the market for as many as two starting pitchers, so landing Nolasco does not necessarily take them out of the Garza market. Though it probably does take them out of his market, with most teams looking for a starter, you wouldn’t even be able to say there was a chance – so that’s a positive. Put differently: Nolasco to the Dodgers takes a pitcher off of the market without necessarily taking a trading partner off of the market.
More importantly, Nolasco bolstering the Dodgers in the tightly-knitted NL West is a great thing for the Cubs, as they will potentially be shopping Garza to each and every team in that division. Now, perhaps, the other four teams will get a little more liberal with their offers.
As for the return, it sounds like it won’t be great, what with the Dodgers taking on all of Nolasco’s salary. Hopefully, when it comes time to deal Garza – who is inarguably a superior option than Nolasco, but they’re in a similar ballpark – the Cubs will emphasize prospect return, rather than money savings.
UPDATE (6:14pm CT): Frisaro says one of the arms going to the Marlins is Steve Ames, a minor league reliever with solid numbers across the board. He was the Dodgers’ 15th best prospect to John Sickels coming into the season. Presumably, then, he’s one of the two “prospects” in the deal, but hopefully not the headliner. A 25-year-old reliever, even one with great minor league numbers, isn’t much of a center piece for Nolasco, and wouldn’t really move the needle on Garza.
UPDATE 2 (7:35pm CT): Chris Cotillo reports that the other two pitchers in the deal are Angel Sanchez and Josh Wall, confirmed by Jon Heyman. Other folks aren’t quite ready to confirm Sanchez in the deal. It sounds like the Dodgers will also be getting international pool money, which could be skewing the return.
UPDATE 3 (7:43pm CT): Wall is a so-so relief pitcher/prospect. He’s 26 and has had a cup in the bigs, but doesn’t have tremendous numbers in the minors (in his defense, he’s pitched in a whole lot of hitter-friendly locations). Sanchez, 23, is an intriguing prospect with decent numbers, but who still at High-A. He was well-regarded, though, by MLB.com going into the season – it had him as the Dodgers’ 8th best prospect. He does not appear in the top 20 on other lists out there, though, and his stock is probably falling a bit.
UPDATE 4 (7:53pm CT): Big-time Dodgers blogger Mike Petriello loves the deal for the Dodgers, which tells you all you need to know about the perceived value of these three pitchers going to the Marlins (and that’s not considering the international pool space the Dodgers are reportedly getting). Assuming the deal proceeds as has been reported, the Marlins return – in early July, mind you – is quite thin. A decent relief prospect, a so-so low-level (but older) pitching prospect, and a so-so middle reliever. They get Nolasco’s salary paid for, which is obviously the priority for the Marlins. Ultimately, I was hoping to see the Marlins get a shockingly large return for Nolasco, because that would justify the Cubs’ gaudy demands for Matt Garza. What we have is a pretty “meh” return, which is probably a commensurate value for what the Dodgers got. That’s fine, and Garza is the superior pitcher. But this doesn’t really help the Cubs if they wanted to point to Nolasco as a low-end comparable.
UPDATE 5 (7:59pm CT): Just to button it up on the value here, Bill Shaikin notes that, going into the season, Baseball America had Wall, Ames, and Sanchez ranked 20, 21, and 25 in a weak farm system. And I’d argue that Wall’s and Sanchez’s stock is down further from there. This is flat-out a very weak return for Nolasco, and I’m going to do some scrambling to emphasize just how much better of a trade option Matt Garza is …