Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com says the Dodgers and Marlins are engaging in trade talks involving Ricky Nolasco.
While rotation depth was supposed to be a major strength for the Dodgers this year, the team has lost Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett to injury and has gotten little from Ted Lilly so far. The team’s rotation currently includes Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano and rookie Stephen Fife.
Nolasco has a 4-7 record for the Marlins, but it comes with a nice 3.68 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. With 77 K’s in 100 1/3 IP, his strikeout rate has also bounced back from last year’s decline.
The 30-year-old Nolasco is a free agent at season’s end, and the Marlins aren’t going to care to ante up and re-sign him. If he doesn’t go to the Dodgers, it’s quite possible he’ll be traded to one of their NL West rivals in the coming weeks. That gives the Dodgers extra incentive to get a deal done now.
The Marlins will likely seek young pitching in return for Nolasco. Right-handers Zach Lee and Ross Stripling and left-hander Chris Reed could be high on their list.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.