Well, another potential Yankee trade target has come off of the boards.
AOL Fanhouse is reporting that the Marlins and starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco, 28, have come to terms on a three year extension worth $26.5M. The contract will buy out Nolasco’s final two years of arbitration eligibility along with his first year of free agent eligibility.
Nolasco has been one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball over the past few seasons. Based on Nolasco’s peripherals from 2008-2010 (8.60 K/9 and 4.44 K/BB), he looks as if he should be an ace (or near ace) quality pitcher. Unfortunately for Nolasco, he’s been plagued by an unusually high BABIP and HR/FB rate, which has pushed his ERA to a higher than expected 4.31 (three year sample size. For reference, his xFIP during that time is roughly 3.50 during the same sample.
After reviewing his batted ball rates, I fully expect Nolasco’s BABIP to regress back to the .300 mean in 2011. Nolasco doesn’t allow an unusually high number of line drives, and he has a ground ball to fly ball ratio (GB/FB) that’s nearly 1:1. Due to the number of fly balls he allows (around 40%), he will probably always have to deal having a high home run rate. That said, once his BABIP regresses back to around .300, the home runs he gives up will likely be less harmful; thus causing his ERA to drop accordingly.
I love this deal for the Marlins. Signing Nolasco to an extension puts the Marlins in a very good position to contend for a playoff spot when they move into their new ballpark in 2012. Currently, they have All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez and Cy Young quality starting pitcher Josh Johnson locked up for the next couple of seasons as well.