Saturday, July 6, 2013
L.A. gets Nolasco without giving up much
By Keith Law
By acquiring Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins for minor league pitchers Steven Ames, Josh Wall and Angel Sanchez, the Dodgers got the starter they desperately needed, while the Marlins got to remind local taxpayers that it was a very bad idea to trust Jeff Loria.
Nolasco, known to Marlins ownership as "the pitcher who makes the money," has settled in as a durable fourth starter type, someone who consistently underperforms his peripherals because he misses bats without power stuff. His fastball is just average without much life; he commands it well enough to get ahead in the count but not so well that he can keep hitters from squaring it up too often, so it plays out as his worst pitch.
His slider has overtaken his curveball as his main swing-and-miss pitch, but both are above-average offerings. Subbing for any of the replacement-level fodder at the back of the Dodgers' rotation -- Stephen Fife or Chris Capuano, primarily -- he could be worth two extra wins the rest of the way. The Dodgers will reportedly pay nearly all of Nolasco's salary for the remainder of the season, which is how they could get away with trading precisely none of their top prospects.
In exchange, the Marlins get to save some money, add some relief prospects and save some money. The righty Wall has a big arm and can ramp up to 97 mph with an average slider, but hitters teed off on the fastball in his brief major league tenure, and he couldn't get to the breaking ball.
Ames, the brother of onetime Tampa Bay first-rounder Jeff Ames, has less velocity with the fastball -- sitting at 92 and touching 94 -- but throws more strikes with it. Until reaching the pitchers' hell of Triple-A Albuquerque this season, he had never failed to strike out a man per inning in pro ball. Both are clear relievers in the majors, while right-hander Sanchez at least has the potential to start.
He was demoted this season back to low Class A, at which he broke out in 2011 with a 90-95 mph fastball and an above-average changeup, though he isn't throwing as hard anymore. His command hasn't advanced at all, and he's still giving up too much hard contact given his stuff, with right-handed hitters doing more damage because his slider is a 45 at best on the 20-80 scouting scale.
The Marlins can afford to take their time with him by keeping him in high Class A and letting him start once they finish counting their savings, although without an average breaking ball, I'm skeptical Sanchez can be more than a reliever in the majors.