Miami Marlin fans might not want to hear this, but the team should trade another veteran pitcher this off season. Ricky Nolasco should be shopped around because his trade value might not ever be as high as it is right now.
The Marlins have already purged many of their recognizable veteran names this offseason, including Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell, in salary-dump trades for prospects.
According to the Associated Press (via Fox Sports) the slashing of the team's payroll has invited the scrutiny of the Major League Baseball Players Association, which feels the Marlins are essentially playing a Triple-A team now.
While the union is not pleased that the Marlins are not using revenue sharing to improve the team, Marlin management might be gun shy to make another move.
But another move is exactly what they should make. And it should involve Nolasco.
The Marlins had acquired Nolasco in 2005 is an earlier salary dump when they moved 2003 World Series hero Juan Pierre to the Chicago Cubs. The Rialto, Ca. native gave the Marlins seven seasons, including a 15-win campaign in 2008.
He has the most wins and strikeouts in the history of the Marlin franchise, and he Nolasco has given the Marlins a lot of innings, twice passing the 200-inning mark in a season.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, Nolasco wants out of Miami after witnessing the offseason moves. But the Marlins have no intention of moving him, as noted on the Twitter feed of ESPN's Jayson Stark.
The Marlins should oblige. It should not be a salary dump. It should be to take advantage of a weak pitchers' market.
As Zach Links of MLB Trade Rumors noted, there is a dearth of available pitchers who can be innings-eaters. After Kyle Lohse, the options would be the likes of Joe Saunders, Shaun Marcum and Brett Myers—pitchers for whom durability could be a question mark.
Nolasco, while not an elite pitcher by any standard, would be a better option.
His ERA might be high and he may let up too many hits. But he stays healthy, starting 30 or more times in four the last five seasons and pitches a lot of innings. Contending teams would pay a premium for a pitcher they can count on to fill the back of the rotation.
And some teams like the Texas Rangers or New York Yankees might be desperate after disappointing offseasons. And flawed potential contenders like the Pittsburgh Pirates or Chicago White Sox might think that some rotation stability can go a long way in filling some holes.
Ricky Nolasco is a decent pitcher who will be entering his 30s—the dangerous time, for even decent pitchers tend to decline at its juncture.
His value might never be as high as it is right now. The Marlins should take advantage of other people's needs. The Marlins are not winning in 2013 anyway, and they should tell the Players Association that they are trying to get better. It will just take some time.
Besides, throwing money at free agents did not lead the 2012 squad to glory. What is one more veteran dealt?