Rosenthal: Yankees not in on Ricky Nolasco

Via Ken Rosenthal: The Yankees are not in on right-hander Ricky Nolasco — or any other pitcher, for that matter — at the moment. We heard the team “already had interest” in the right-hander earlier this month. Their focus has shifting to finding offense for obvious reasons.

Nolasco, 30, has pitched to a 3.93 ERA and 3.54 FIP in 17 starts for the Marlins this year. Rumor has it he could be moved very soon, as in before his next start, and a bunch of NL West clubs are showing the most interest. The Dodgers have been considered the front-runner recently. New York’s starters have posted a solid but not great 4.06 ERA and 3.55 FIP over the last 30 days even before David Phelps got pounded last night, but at this point pitching is not the problem. Nolasco would be an upgrade at the back of the rotation, however.

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Stark: Yankees “already have interest” in Ricky Nolasco

Via Jayson Stark: The Yankees are one of the teams that “already have interest” in Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco. “I think he’d be a great addition for somebody, as a No. 3 or 4 [starter],” said a scout to Stark. “He’s very similar to what Anibal Sanchez was last year. He’s not a 1 or a 2. But he’s a veteran guy who can go out and spin seven innings, and do it, I think, for a contending team.”

Nolasco, 30, has a 3.61 ERA (3.54 FIP) in 82.1 innings across 12 starts this year. His strikeout rate (7.32 K/9 and 19.9 K%) is his best in years while his walk (2.19 BB/9 and 6.0 BB%) and ground ball (42.1%) numbers are right in line with his career norms. Nolasco will earn $11.5M this year and become a free agent after the season. The Yankees had interest in acquiring him over the winter, before re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte. The pitching staff is fine right now, though I guess they could add Nolasco and flip Phil Hughes or David Phelps for a bat. That’s kind of a roundabout way of improving the team though.

A way, way too early look at possible trade deadline targets

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)

We are now less than three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting for duty in Tampa, meaning it’s looking less and less likely that Brian Cashman & Co. will pull a major move out of their sleeve this offseason. The Yankees still need a starting catcher (not happening), a DH (will probably happen), bench help (almost certainly will happen), and various depth pieces (will happen) before the start of the season, so the shopping list isn’t small. Since it’s unlikely each of those holes will be filled before the season, let’s look ahead at some players who might be available at the trade deadline.

Now, looking ahead seven months and trying to figure which teams will be in it and who be available is very, very tricky business. At this time last year I was touting Andre Ethier as a potential deadline DH target, yet by time late-July rolled around he had signed a new extension and the Dodgers were suddenly owned by free-spending billionaires. There are surprise contenders and surprise extensions every summer, which throws a wrench into the trade market. Since we like talking about possible trades though, here are a few players in their walk years — I’m assuming the Yankees won’t want to take on any multi-year contracts given the 2014 payroll plan — on projected non/maybe-contenders who might be available at midseason.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)
(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Grant Balfour
The Athletics surprised everyone last season with their late surge to the AL West crown, but you don’t have to try real hard to envision a scenario in which they’re out of the race and far behind the Angels and Rangers come the deadline. Oakland had a ton of walk-off wins and nearly all of their rookie arms worked out last year, neither of which I would count on happening again. The Yankees have had some interest in Balfour before, and the 35-year-old right-hander would be an obvious target if things go wrong in the bullpen and another late-game arm is needed.

Matt Garza & Ricky Nolasco
The Yankees have plenty of pitching depth at the moment, but we know how this stuff goes. It has a way of disappearing quickly. CC Sabathia is coming off elbow surgery, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte are up their in age, Phil Hughes seems to perpetually walk the tightrope, and no one really knows what to expect out of Ivan Nova and David Phelps. Since Adam Warren and Brett Marshall are the next-in-line guys in Triple-A, a veteran starter could easily be on the trade deadline agenda. The Cubs and Marlins aren’t going anywhere and they’ve already been shopping Garza and Nolasco, respectively, so it’s a safe bet both guys will be moved at some point before the end of July. Garza, 29, has AL East experience while the 30-year-old Nolasco is more of a break glass in case of emergency option. The Yankees have had interest in both in the not-too-distant past.

Corey Hart
Hart, 30, was supposed to have knee surgery yesterday, but he pushed the procedure back so he could get a second opinion. He was expected to miss three or four months once he had the operation. Hart is basically another Mike Morse, except he hits for a slightly lower average and makes up the on-base numbers with walks. He hits for power from the right side and can play either corner outfield spot in addition to first base. DH is always an option as well. The Brewers overhauled their league-worst bullpen from a year ago but didn’t add any starting pitching, so contending in the tough (but winnable!) NL Central will be a chore. For what it’s worth, Brewers GM Doug Melvin was non-committal when asked about signing Hart to an extension a few weeks ago.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)
(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Todd Helton
This one might be coming out of left field, but I think there’s potential here. Helton, 39, fits the Ichiro Suzuki/Lance Berkman mold of a former great who has been toiling on a non-contender for years and could request a trade in hopes of one last shot at a World Championship. He’s battled knee, hip, and back injuries in recent years but still provides value at the plate because he’s very disciplined (13.8 BB% in 2012, 14.4% career) and he doesn’t strike out much (15.5 K% in 2012, 12.1% career). Yes, the guy has been in the big leagues since 1997 and he still has more unintentional walks (1,111) than strikeouts (1,088) to his name. His power (.164 ISO last two years) is mostly the product of Coors Field — Yankee Stadium is a pretty good place to hit as well — and he will need a platoon partner. Helton has already hinted at retiring after the season, and if the Yankees need a left-handed hitter for their DH spot come July, and I bet his name pops up in rumors. He fits the good clubhouse presence, veteran change of scenery guy mold perfectly.

Carlos Ruiz
Ruiz, 34, has to serve a 25-game amphetamines-related suspension to open the season, but he’ll still have about three months before the deadline to prove last season’s 151 wRC+ wasn’t a fluke. I don’t expect him to ever hit like that again, but he’s been an above-average hitter over the last four seasons because he takes walks (career 10.4 BB%) and doesn’t strike out (career 11.1 K%). He’ll probably go back to hitting single-digit homers again, but that’s fine given his batting average and on-base ability. Chooch has consistently ranked in the top-six of the various catcher defense rankings (2010, 2011, 2012) and he’s thrown out base-stealers at a league average rate or better throughout his career. If the Phillies skid to the finish and make Ruiz available at the deadline, he’d be the perfect rental for New York even if he doesn’t repeat 2012 and reverts back to his 2008-2010 form.

Boland: Yankeees interested in Ricky Nolasco

Via Erik Boland: The Yankees have trade interest in Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco. Miami is obviously selling off any player who makes decent money these days, so Nolasco and his $11.5M salary for next season are available. He’ll be a free agent next winter.

Nolasco, 29, pitched to a 4.48 ERA (3.87 FIP) in 191 innings this season. He’s consistently underperformed his peripheral stats over the last four years, pitching to a 4.68 ERA with a 3.65 FIP in over 700 innings since 2009. That’s not a small sample and you can’t just wait for positive regression anymore. Add in the fact that his strikeout rate has been trending in the wrong direction for years now, and you’re getting a “meh” from me. Not my first, second, or even third choice for rotation help at this point of the offseason.

Trade market heating up with Jimenez, Danks, Nolasco talk

With just five days until the non-waiver trade deadline, rumors are starting to fly with reckless abandon. The Yankees, by all indications, are looking into most available starting pitchers. There are ups and downs to each, of course, so let’s take a look at the three that have gotten some play in the past day.

Ubaldo Jimenez: In terms of talent, years of control, and contract, he’s the best pitcher on the market. It’s still unclear why the Rockies would consider trading him in the first place. The only reason is to start a quick rebuilding process, since their two biggest stars are under contract for many years to come. Joel Sherman reports that the Rockies have come down in price and are asking for three of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Jesus Montero, and Ivan Nova. Perhaps if they take two and some other prospects it could work, but I cant’ see the Yanks trading three of their top five guys for him.

Ricky Nolasco: We’ve heard his name mentioned a few times in passing before, but nothing seriously. This morning SI’s Jon Heyman said that the Yanks tried for him, but that the Marlins aren’t ready to deal. Nolaso is under contract through 2013, for $9 million next year and $11.5 million in 2013. I don’t quite like this one, unless he comes super cheap. His results have never matched his potential — they’ve been pretty far off, in fact — and his strikeouts are way down this year.

John Danks: There’s nothing connecting him to the Yankees, but Ken Rosenthal reports that he’s on the market. I wrote up the case for Danks last week. He’s my favorite option on the market, all considered. He won’t cost as much as Jimenez and he’s better than Nolasco. The White Sox seem to be in wheeling and dealing mode right now; as I write this, they’re in the process of trading Edwin Jackson to the Blue Jays.