Take another starting pitcher off the market: Ricky Nolasco is a Twin. Nolasco will make $12 million over each of the next four years, and the Twins have an option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout.
The 30-year old Nolasco, who turns 31 in December, is the model of mediocrity. Before 2013, he had just one season with an ERA under 4.00, and that was his rookie year of 2008. Nolasco is a guy who always under performed his peripheral stats, and below average strand rates and high BABIPs led to ERAs that were vastly higher than what the estimators said they should be.
But last year, a season that was split between Miami and Los Angeles, Nolasco seemingly put everything together. Nolasco made 33 starts and pitched 199 1/3 innings, notching a 3.70 ERA that was his best mark since that 2008 season. Nolasco also pushed his strikeout rate to its highest mark since 2010, and kept his walk rate better than the league average.
Yet, that doesn't exactly make me very optimistic about Nolasco's signing in Minnesota for the largest free agent contract in team history. Despite a pitch to contact mantra by the organization, the club had a below average defense – and they'll be breaking in a new first baseman next season in Joe Mauer. Nolasco's a decent player, and unlike others, I don't think his value is too far out of whack, but I don't think he's a great fit for the Twins. Nolasco would have been a great signing for a team that needed to be pushed over the hump – maybe in Baltimore or Washington, for example. But Minnesota, coming off of three-straight 96 loss seasons with their best prospects at least half a season away? This contract reminds me a lot of Edwin Jackson's pact with the Cubs last winter – right player, right money, wrong team.