The Miami Marlins are still working hard to try and trade Ricky Nolasco, but for a variety of reasons, it seems they may be backing off their previously harder stances on the sort of return they might expect. Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that the Marlins may be "adjusting" the price for Nolasco in order to fit the current market.
Marlins starting to adjust the asking price on Nolasco, reflecting their desire to move him ASAP. Dodgers still regarded as frontrunner.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 2, 2013
The problem the Marlins are having is one that we noted earlier here at Fish Stripes: the team was likely to get either legitimate prospects with payment heading back to the acquiring team, or get menial prospects and full salary relief from Nolasco's $5.75 million remaining. The Marlins, of course, wanted both, but as we all know, you can't always get what you want.
But the Fish can still get something that they need, provided that they are realistic about Nolasco's trade value They cannot assume they will get a prospect like Zack Lee from their prime suitors the Los Angeles Dodgers unless the team chips in some money for the deal. The organization has to know that, even with Nolasco's strong 2013 start, he is not expected to continue to pitch as well as he did, even if the strikeouts and walks remain more or less the same.
At the same time, the Fish do know that, given that it is trade deadline season, teams should pay something for Nolasco's services, and the Marlins are not going to give that away like they did with Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin (cheap shot, had to be done though). Jon Heyman of CBSSports mentioned as much in a recent article, citing that a source said the Marlins are unlikely to simply hand Nolasco to anyone.
Some suggest the Marlins might prefer to deal the free-agent-to-be Nolasco, 30, before his start Wednesday against the Braves, but the source said they are still holding out for their price on the solid innings eater. "He's not a giveaway,'' a Marlins person insisted, suggesting they have at least a suitor who will take the contract but not provide much in the way of a prospect in return.
Indeed, Nolasco should not be given away Cody Ross-style (some wounds never heal), but the Marlins really do need to be realistic. Nolasco is not likely as good as his ERA indicates, and that is backed by history from 2009 onward that he has struggled with stranding runners. We established that Nolasco could be expected to post a 4.00 ERA going forward and be worth about one win to an acquiring team. Nolasco at this point is being paid a little more than one win's worth, so if the Fish do not want to absorb any salary for Nolasco, they should not expect much in the way of a return.
Hopefully, the news regarding the team's adjustment will help them entice a deal. Apparently, the Colorado Rockies are still involved in trade talks, with an offer on the table that would be enough prospects-wise if the Fish were willing to pay for Nolasco. At the same time, the Dodgers, whose potential trade return we have already discussed, could give a lower-end prospect (indicated in the linked article as guys like Matt Magill and Chris Withrow) or two and pay all of Nolasco's salary.
The Fish will eventually have to choose one of those types of deals, because it is unlikely teams will give B-ranked prospects and take money back for a player who, before this season, would not have sniffed more than a fifth-starter job in the offseason.