Should the Dodgers acquire Ricky Nolasco? Matt Garza? + international bonus pool space

RickyNolasco

The Dodgers are among multiple teams in pursuit of Marlins right-handed starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco, according to multiple reports.

NL West rivals and the Orioles are named by Fox SportsKen Rosenthal.

Four of the five teams in the West — the Giants, Dodgers, Padres and Rockies — have expressed interest in Nolasco, according to major-league sources.

The Orioles, another team in need of starting pitching, also like Nolasco, sources say.

Meanwhile, the consensus (here, here, here) seems to be that the Marlins want to be rid of Nolasco, his salary, and his lack of future in the rebuild down there, and they want to be rid of him immediately.

As far as the status of the trade, the Dodgers are in talks with the Marlins, but nothing is imminent yet, according to Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are deep into trade talks with the Miami Marlins about pitcher Ricky Nolasco, a source confirmed Wednesday.

Then there’s the question of whether this would be a wise move. The money is sort of moot in the case of the Dodgers, but would this actually make sense?

Nolasco has a 3.68 ERA and a 3.55 FIP in 2013, but his career rates of 4.43/3.81 suggest a problem living up to his defensive-independent numbers. Over more than a thousand innings, that’s not bad luck, that’s a repeatable problem. But last year Nolasco made adjustments, as Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs points out. So going forward, there’s a good chance that he’s a sub-4 ERA guy, worth about 2-3 wins over a full season.

Now if that sounds a lot like the guys he would be replacing in the rotation, Chris Capuano or Stephen Fife, it’s because it should. Capuano has a 4.09 ERA and a 4.21 FIP in 2013, while he was at 3.72 and 3.95 last year. Fife, meanwhile, has been solidly average, posting a 3.41 ERA and 4.16 FIP. As such, there’s little marginal value in acquiring Nolasco, at least in an absolute sense.

That said, Nolasco is the superior pitcher to both, and acquiring him has benefits beyond pure man-for-man comparisons. Since Fife has options, it allows the Dodgers to push a guy they can count on back to AAA in case of an injury, which is a superior alternative to chancing it with the Zach Lee/Matt Magill/Jonathan Sanchez/whoever else monster. Additionally, it keeps him out of the hands of the competition, most of whom are pitching starved. Ranked by WAR to date, the Padres have the worst starting rotation in baseball, and the Giants come in at 25th.

So is Nolasco a pitcher worth pursuing? Yes. The question is what it will cost the Dodgers, and hopefully the answer isn’t an impact prospect.

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The Dodgers are also interested in Cubs right-handed starter Matt Garza, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

The Padres and Dodgers also are among the teams pursuing Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, sources say.

Garza has a much better reputation than Nolasco, but he hasn’t really been THAT GUY outside of 2011, and he’s posting a 4.25 ERA this year to go along with a 4.35 FIP. His body of work screams consistently above-average, not front-line rotation anchor.

Given what he’s likely to fetch, he needs to either show his previous front-line performance or the cost will have to come down.

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Kevin Gregg of the Cubs is also getting asked about, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. Chances that one of those teams are the Dodgers? Has to be 100%, right?

Not to worry, he will likely immediately suck should he come to Chavez Ravine.

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In “not shocking at all” news, the team is interested in trading for pool space in the international signings frontier, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.

In addition to the Cubs and Rangers, sources have said the Yankees, Dodgers and perhaps Red Sox might also be among the other teams in the market to acquire more pool space. Yet the way in which MLB structured the bonus pools has left the market short on sellers. Just seven teams have more than $3 million in their bonus pools, and two of them are the Cubs and Red Sox.

I have a hard time seeing many teams being willing to give up significant bonus pool space given how low it already is to start.

About Chad Moriyama

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