Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins have been trying to work out a long-term contract extension all year, so it’s not surprising to see Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report that the team is “gauging interest” in Nolasco at the winter meetings.
According to Spencer they’re also taking calls on closer Leo Nunez, but “are not committed to trading either” and “would have to be overwhelmed by any offers.”
Nolasco is under team control for two more seasons, while Nunez is arbitration eligible for the final time and will hit the open market as a free agent next offseason. It makes sense to deal Nunez, because his save total overrates him in the arbitration process and could lead to a 2011 salary of $5 million or so. However, dealing Nolasco would be a mistake unless the Marlins can get a significant return.
Nolasco has a mediocre 4.45 ERA in 716 career innings, but his secondary numbers have consistently been much better and he’s still just 28 years old. Among all pitchers to make at least 75 starts in the past three seasons Nolasco ranks fourth in strikeout-to-walk ratio, eighth in strikeout rate, and 12th in wins. He’s very close to emerging as a top-of-the-rotation starter.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.