The Miami Marlins are likely to be somewhat active during the 2013 MLB trade deadline, and one of the names that will floated around constantly is that of Ricky Nolasco's. Last week, we discussed the possibility of a Nolasco trade to the San Francisco Giants, as Nolasco is a California native.
The Giants would be a nice fit, but according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, other NL West teams would be interested as well. The Marlins apparently already discussed a Nolasco trade to the Colorado Rockies (H/T MLBTR). But the Rockies had a problem with the financial aspect of the trade, as Nolasco is still owed about $6 million in salary for his final contract year. As mentioned in the Giants article, Nolasco is only about a one-win pitcher for the rest of the season, making his on-field value worth less than his salary at the moment.
Nolasco may also garner some trade interest from the Arizona Diamondbacks and the San Diego Padres, all of whom are involved in a tight race with the Giants for supremacy in the NL West. As ridiculous as it is to consider this, Nolasco owns a 2.09 career ERA versus the Giants in nine starts, which for some reason might entice a professional Major League team to hop on the Ricky bandwagon.
For the Marlins, these are all good things, as the team is trying to trade away Nolasco. Each of these teams might have some interest in fitting a decent back-end starter into their rotation. The Rockies, in particular, could use another warm body as they continue to work on a pitching staff. While Jhoulys Chacin and Jorge de la Rosa have been effective, they also have minuscule home run rates while working in the most hitter-friendly park in baseball, so those performances might trend downward as the season progresses. Their remaining starters are struggling badly with the home run, as Juan Nicasio (1.1 homers per nine innings), Jon Garland (1.2), and Jeff Francis (1.9) have all been giving up long balls. The Rockies were desperate enough to turn to the broken-down Roy Oswalt for help.
Unfortunately for them, Nolasco would be a poor fit with that cast. Despite his solid start in 2013, he still should be considered a "homer-prone" pitcher, especially with his 2013 decrease in ground ball rate. His repertoire and approach of pounding the strike zone works better in a spacious stadium like Marlins Park than it would in the thin air of Coors Field. Even with the nice work he has done so far, it is difficult to see him working out in a such hitter-friendly atmosphere.
The other teams listed have varying needs at starting pitcher. The Diamondbacks suffered recent injuries but all of their starters have either done well or have at least a decent track record. The Padres, on the other hand, have been one of the worst pitching teams in baseball when you consider where they play their home games. Aside from Eric Stults and Andrew Cashner, the Padres' staff has been horrific. The team as a whole is dead last is FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement from their staff, as they are almost two wins below replacement level.
Of the three locations listed, Nolasco's best fit would be in San Diego, where he can place pitches in the strike zone and not nearly be as concerned about the long ball. But his contract remains a serious issue. If the Marlins want to get any value in return, they will have to pay most, if not all, of Nolasco's remaining salary. Currently, he has negative trade value because he is paid more than his worth, but if the Fish swallow his salary, they can get a B-ranked prospect much like the ones I listed in the Giants article. On the Rockies, such a prospect could include players like Tyler Anderson or Eddie Butler. On the Padres' top-notch system, that would be someone like Donn Roach or Joe Ross.
If the Marlins do not offer to eat any of Nolasco's salary, do not expect a significant name in return. Even with the desperation of the trade deadline and a weak pitching class, teams are wary enough about the inconsistency of Nolsaco to not hitch themselves to him for much. In this case, the Marlins would be wise to break out the checkbook in order to get some talent back.