Florida Marlins Better off Trading the Inconsistent Ricky Nolasco in Offseason

James Bondman@@james_bondmanCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2011

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 17:  Starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco #47 of the Florida Marlins kicks the dirt s he returns to the mound after giving up a three run homerun to Carlos Gonzalez #5 of the Colorado Rockies to give the Rockies a 11-0 lead in the third inning at Coors Field on August 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

After his season finale on Sunday, Ricky Nolasco could be facing the strong possibility of being traded this offseason according to a front office source.

Nolasco, who became the Marlins all-time leader in strikeouts, might not even get a sniff at a chance to be the all-time leader in wins (64) where he trails current leader, Dontrelle Willis (68); a feat many thought he would reach based on his winning pedigree. 

Nevertheless, Nolasco has been a huge disappointment this season and he can best be described as a rollercoaster ride considering how high and low he has been this season. Up until May 24, right before the Marlins downfall in the standings, he was 4-0 with a 3.04 ERA.

His next start was the forgettable Sunday afternoon game at Dodger Stadium where Nolasco allowed 15 hits and eight earned runs in five innings of work. This game was the first in what would be a series of games lost by the Marlins that started their "June Swoon."

But enough of about that dreaded month, here is the rundown of the rest of Nolasco's terrible outings this season:

June 13: Arizona (home) 3 innings, 8 hits, 9 runs (5 earned), 4 walks (Loss)

June 18: Tampa Bay (road) 5 innings, 8 hits, 5 earned runs, 1 walk, no strikeouts (Loss) 

July 20: San Diego (home) 1 1/3 innings, 9 hits, 9 earned runs, 2 walks (Loss) 

August 17: Colorado (road) 3 innings, 11 hits, 11 earned runs, 1 walk (Loss)

September 25: Milwaukee (road) 2 innings, 9 hits, 7 runs (6 earned), no walks (Loss) 

Dating back to that road start at Colorado, Nolasco has seen his ERA inflated from 3.72 to 4.67 with a string of eight starts where he went 1-4 with an 8.18 ERA (6.32 ERA in August and 6.83 ERA in September).

Even though the Marlins lack starting pitching, they gave Nolasco a three-year, $26.5 million contract (with $9 million and $11 million in 2012 and 2013 respectively, still owed). 

If the Marlins cut their losses with Nolasco, it will help open up the wallets for the Marlins to extend the more reliable Anibal Sanchez and re-sign gold glove-caliber second baseman Omar Infante. 

Florida could also be serious players on the free-agent front for players such as C.J. Wilson, CC Sabathia (if he opts out), Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and Aramis Ramirez respectively.

The Marlins could unload Nolasco to either the Yankees or Tigers who might be in the market for another starter. From the Yankees, a package of Phil Hughes and a relief prospect wouldn't be a bad return. And from the Tigers, a package centered around Dan Schlereth and/or Jacob Turner and another prospect could be beneficial. 

However, the Marlins might only pull the trigger if they can get their hands on a top-of-the-rotation arm from free agency.

That way they have assured themselves of enough firepower at the top to simply fill the rest with cheaper options who, in the end, might be just as a good, if not better options than Nolasco considering the way he has pitched.

A new pitching coach may or may not be the remedy Nolasco needs, but it's been three seasons since his stellar 2008 campaign with a pair of different coaches (Wiley and St. Claire) and he still hasn't been able to figure it out. 

Last offseason, the Marlins took offers for their right hander when contract talks were at a stalemate. Rumors flew prior to the trade deadline about the Marlins entertaining offers for their starters (not including Josh Johnson), but they shot those down because of impending opening of a new ballpark and wanting to keep the core intact.