Yankees send Vidal Nuno to Diamondbacks for Brandon McCarthy

(Christian Petersen/Getty)

(Christian Petersen/Getty)

The Yankees have added some much-needed rotation help, and it came very cheap. The team announced they have acquired right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for lefty Vidal Nuno. Buster Olney says Arizona will pay half of the $4.1M owed to McCarthy through the end of the season. The Yankees will pay the $1M assignment bonus in his contract.

Arizona comes into today with baseball’s worst record at 36-53, and GM Kevin Towers has made it clear in recent days that they will look to deal veterans for young players in the coming weeks. The D’Backs traded lefty reliever Joe Thatcher and outfielder Tony Campana to the Angels just yesterday. I’d expect them to make more moves before the trade deadline. McCarthy is due to become a free agent after the season, so this is a pure rental for the Yankees. It seems like a salary dump for the D’Backs more than anything.

“Quality stuff. Pounds the strike zone. Lots of ground balls, which helps at our Stadium,” said Brian Cashman to Joel Sherman when asked about the deal. “[David] Huff was better than we had and McCarthy was better than what we had, so we improve when we can.”

McCarthy, who turns 31 tomorrow, has a 5.01 ERA and 3.79 FIP in 18 starts and 109.1 innings this year. Homeruns have been a big problem (1.23 HR/9 and 20.0 HR/FB%) and that doesn’t figure to change in Yankee Stadium, but his strikeout (7.63 K/9 and 20.0 K%), walk (1.64 BB/9 and 4.3 BB%) and ground ball (55.3%) rates are all solid. Clearly the Yankees are hoping his .345 BABIP and 66.7% strand rate return to his career norms (.296 and 70.5%, respectively) and he pitches closer to his FIP than ERA the rest of the season.

I wrote about McCarthy as a possible trade target just the other day. He is going to give up some homers, that’s inevitable, but the D’Backs are one the few clubs with a worse team defense (.669 defensive efficiency) than the Yankees (.682), so New York’s porous infield and all their shifts might actually be an upgrade for him. Either way, Nuno set the bar rather low (5.42 ERA and 5.15 FIP). All McCarthy has to do is chew up innings every fifth day to be an upgrade, and that’s not necessarily a guarantee given his worrisome injury history. Here’s a wrote I few days ago:

The biggest concern with McCarthy, by far, is his injury history. He has stayed healthy this season but has otherwise visited the disabled list with a shoulder problem at least once every year from 2007-13. Only once since 2006 has McCarthy thrown more 135 innings in a season (180.2 in in 2011) and this year he is already at 104 innings. Maybe he’ll stay healthy, but, given his history, you have to think a disabled list stint is coming at some point.

Nuno, 26, opened the season as the long man and was initially pushed into the rotation by Ivan Nova‘s elbow injury in April. He remained a starter as CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) went down with their injuries. The Yankees plucked Nuno out of an independent league a few years ago, got about a hundred replacement level innings out of him, then turned him into a half-season of McCarthy. Not bad at all.

McCarthy last started on Thursday and, according to Dan Barbarisi, he told reporters in Arizona he will start for the Yankees on Wednesday. In that case the Yankees will need someone to make Nuno’s scheduled start tomorrow. Bruce Billings, who is currently in the clubhouse after being scratched from last night’s start with Triple-A Scranton, will not make that start according to Joe Girardi. He’s there to help the bullpen. Shane Greene is scheduled to start for Triple-A tomorrow and seems like the obvious choice to make the spot start. Masahiro Tanaka can then start on Tuesday on normal rest.

I think it’s important to note that while McCarthy figures to be an upgrade over Nuno, perhaps a substantial one, this move alone won’t put the Yankees over the top. It can’t be their only move if they truly want to contend. They need help at third base and in right field, plus another reliever to ease the burden on Dellin Betances and Adam Warren would help as well. Another starter shouldn’t be off the table either. Sabathia and Pineda aren’t coming back any time soon and Chase Whitley has hit the wall and hard. The Yankees got better today, but hopefully the McCarthy trade is not the only move they make.

Categories : Transactions


  1. CashmanNinja says:

    We got McCarthy for…Nuno?

  2. swizmo says:

    2014 World Champion New York Yankees

  3. Oy says:

    Great if its just Nuno! Now if only we could get our hands on Miley too…

  4. fat toad says:

    wow, excellent trade. I’m shocked.

  5. Leg-End says:

    I’d make that deal, damn good deal.

  6. Heebs says:

    I live in Phoenix and watching every start this year I am really disappointed I have to watch any more of them. He only found success in Oakland due to their park, he has never pitched well in AZ due to their park and now he comes to Yankee stadium giving up the most HR of his career?

    Yeah, spectacular.

  7. Heebs says:

    I live in Phoenix and watching every start this year I am really disappointed I have to watch any more of them. He only found success in Oakland due to their park, he has never pitched well in AZ due to their park and now he comes to Yankee stadium giving up the most HR of his career?

    Yeah, spectacular.

  8. Jeff G says:

    Wow, wait til you see Mrs. McCarthy!!! Excellent deal for the Yankees :-)

  9. hogsmog says:

    I… don’t understand why the Dbacks would do this? They are both pretty bad, but McCarthy is better in just about every measurable way, plus actually has a track record of being a solid pitcher (and a 2014 FIP that doesn’t seem out of whack).

    Unless they really wanted a lefty?

    Anyway, seems like a total win for us.

    • Now Batting says:


    • tom says:

      I believe Billings will start in place of Nuno tomorrow and McCarthy will start in place of Whitley.

      If it sounds plausible then Whitley should be opted to AAA tomorrow to make a room for Billings. Huff could be the one since I read somewhere Yankees have intended to prepare him as a starter for 2nd half. Whatever! Whitley in bullpen as his turn is skipped this week.

  10. Evan3457 says:

    BABIP is .345. HR/FB% is 20%.

    Both numbers are very high.

    Still, 55% GB percentage and Jeter/Roberts not a good fit.
    1.2 HR/9 going from the 6th best HR park in MLB to the best HR park, as per ESPN park factors…

    Well, with both of those things working against a pitcher, it doesn’t matter who you trade for, unless it’s Kershaw, I guess.

    • Winter says:

      That homer rate is all due to the HR/FB you quoted, though. His FB% this year is actually the lowest of his career. The Yankees just got an unlucky pitcher and gave up a flat-out bad one.

  11. CashmanNinja says:

    I wouldn’t have minded if they tried to get Miley or Cahill in a bigger deal, but oh well. Nuno for McCarthy is a steal in my opinion — if McCarthy can rediscover his form. I think the only reason the A’s were interested in a 1-for-1 swap is because Nuno is under contract longer (for cheap).

    • Tanuki Tanaka says:

      Miley yes, hell no on Cahill. I’m aware that Cahill is overdue for a positive regression/ERA-correction based on his babip and FIP but his groundball rate declined, walks jumped up and he’s been mostly relieving this season.

  12. Ron says:

    I hope he isn’t one of those guys that likes to pitch with a lead. Sorry that’s not the way we do things on the Yankees.

  13. Need Pitching & Hitting says:

    So we probably get to see a Bruce Billings start tomorrow.


  14. Tanuki Tanaka says:

    What? Arizona did not include Wade Miley in the deal? Cashman failed.

  15. TheRealGreg says:

    Solid deal because no prospects were relented.

    • ALZ says:

      Yes, why I didn’t want Shark or Price. They were able to help the team now by avoiding the big name and overpaying for it.

  16. Kosmo says:

    McCarthy is an upgrade over Nuno. The question being how much of one ?

    Yanks still need another SP (Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Cole Hamels, Latos ?) and a RP and a RF who can hit as well as an upgrade at 3B or 2B.

    This could get interesting.

  17. md says:

    I think we just increased payroll without improving.

  18. pepes pizza says:

    Soriano designated for assignment

  19. emac2 says:


    Talk about nothing to like.

    I guess he’s tall.

    Looks like an expensive, old right handed Nuno.

    I was done with Nuno so it doesn’t matter but 2-3 mil doesn’t buy much these days. Maybe he can be effective as a reliever?

  20. CashmanNinja says:

    Bye bye, Soriano.

    Last year was great, but he was absolutely brutal this season (both offensively and defensively). He became an automatic out and a liability.

  21. twyankeesfan says:

    Improving or not still needs to be seen but there is very little (or none) option to make a change without increasing the payroll…*You all know too well about our farm system…*

  22. Wayne says:

    Plus Mc Carthy gives up homeruns.

  23. Wayne says:

    Mc Carthy has injury problems don’t know how he can be innings eater?
    He is 31 this year. Vidal Nuno is 26 and has no injury problems .

    • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

      It’s more about the innings/start than the # of starts.
      Nuno doesn’t give innings even when he’s healthy.

      It’s a slight upgrade.

  24. yanks just DFA soriano joe ruined him

  25. Evan3457 says:

    You know what might work, but will never happen?

    Using Ryan as a “caddy” at short for Jeter when McCarthy starts.

    Ah, well.

  26. Nathan says:

    I guess the upgrade is that he has an attractive wife.

  27. forensic says:

    I don’t think there will be much, if any, improvement at all, but at least it’s something different.

    Now do Greene for Whitley too and at least we get to see if something different will work for a couple weeks.

  28. Frank says:

    This trade is a wash IMO. Yanks just took on more payroll. In fact, Nuno may wind up the winner here getting out of YS.

    • Mike HC says:

      Not a wash. Definite win for Diamondbacks.

      Nuno is not that good, but as you can see this year, every arm counts. To even get a semi useful arm under team control for the next like 5 years for McCarthy is a win for them.

      For the Yanks side, sure, why not. If we are constantly willing to buy 5th starters/LOOGY’s, having Nuno cheap was not going to help us all that much in the future.

      • ALZ says:

        Nuno is a replacement level arm, and they got a pitcher with a sub 4.00 FIP for him.

        • Mike HC says:

          I said for the Yankees I would have done the deal.

          But looking at the deal in a vacuum, I think Nuno for the next 5 years will be more valuable than McCarthy for this half season. Obviously this is a very minor move, so no great shakes here either way.

          • RetroRob says:

            Not sure about that, unless you mean they could have kept him, unlike McCarthy, giving Nuno more long-term value.

            I wanted to see Nuno more early this year, and due to the injuries I got my wish…unfortunately. The reviews on him from the scouting community were spot on. He has no particular out pitch, and that will hurt him as a starter or a reliever. He may stick around for a few seasons as Arizona is the worst team in baseball and is rebuilding, and they’re in the NL, but I just didn’t see what I hoped for from Nuno. I’m fine with the flip here, hoping McCarthy at the minimum can give them more innings, and maybe a bit more.

  29. moreshit says:

    Once again adding shit on top of shit.

  30. Deep Thoughts says:

    Adios Cara de Rata. Good luck LOOGYing Brandon Belt, Adrian Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, I assume.

    Or do you think they’ll run him out there as a starter? PETCO and Dodger Stadium are pretty big parks. He might do OK if they only pitch him in pitcher-friendly parks.

  31. bpdelia says:

    People seem to be under a strange impression that you can acquire players simply by asking nicely.

    The Yankees just traded a 26 year old pitcher with no future and no history of success currently having a terrible year for a 30 year old pitcher with no future, who HAS a history of success, having a terrible year.

    At worst it’s a wash. At best a massive win and the price was exactly zero.

    If you want good players you have to trade good prospects and even then the other team actually retains the rights to say no! Crazy!

    My impression of this trade is as follows:
    Might not work out, might work out shockingly well. If I had to bet my life on which guy will have a better second half I challenge any human to think nuno is a better bet.

    In conclusion. No backsies.

    • Preston says:

      The fact that anybody is complaining about this deal shows how crazy people can be. Vidal Nuno is terrible and he’s probably less useful as a reliever than as a starter. For 2 million bucks and a guy barely worthy of a 40 man roster spot we got a guy who with a little change of luck could be pretty good. It’s not like there are a lot of better SP options out there right now either.

      • ALZ says:

        Right, NYY has financial muscle to be fine with this. Sure his ERA sucks, but his FIP is sub 4.00. He is worth a chance if he only costs Nuno.

        Sure McCarthy is a big wildcard, but he cost nothing in good long term pieces. Judge, Severino, Sanchez, Bird may be great players in the future, Nuno not so much. Sure he is in the majors, but when you really gave up a replacement level starter it’s not worth complaining.

  32. RetroRob says:

    Solid move. At the worst, he pitches as poorly as Nuno but gets them further into the ballgame.

    In reality, his 3.79 FIP compared to Nuno’s 5.15 FIP say a lot. McCarthy has the ability to be better. Nuno was pitching to his ability with that 5.00+ ERA.

    If nothing else, he probably has the best Twitter account of any player in the game. I hope the Yankees don’t restrict him in that area.

  33. Mick taylor says:

    How about taking on cliff lee as a salary dumpwithout giving up much, maybe Whitley and mason williams

  34. Deep Thoughts says:

    Reposted from the Game Thread:

    ESPN “Analytics Edition” article on McCarthy from 2012, about how he embraced sabermetrics and reinvented himself:


    “On paper, he has no business understanding sabermetrics, much less using them to resurrect his career. As we all know, though, the game is not played on paper.”

  35. Brandon McCarthy is an upgrade to Vidal Nuno like shitting yourself is better then lighting your hair on fire

  36. Dugan says:

    Is this the best you can do Cashman!! What a joke!!

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