Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi are the kings of the minor trade thus far, as the duo made another deal on Monday. The Dodgers acquired right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio from the Rockies for a player to be named later (boo) or cash considerations (yay).
Nicascio, 28, has been a starting pitcher for most of his career, and the numbers have been downright ugly. He owns a career 5.03 ERA in 381 innings. Mind you, he’s pitched for the Rockies for his entire career, so the numbers are skewed.
After I tweeted something to the effect of, “Nicasio’s numbers should improve outside of Coors Field,” some were quick to point out Nicasio’s numbers are better at home than on the road.
Technically, yes, Nicasio is better in Coors than he isn’t. But come on, this isn’t the Central Bureaucracy. There is almost literally no difference in the triple slashes above. The fact is, Nicasio should improve his numbers outside of the launching pad. Of course, it’s dependent on his ability to pitch well enough for the environment to have a positive impact on his performance.
Nicasio figures to pitch out of the bullpen for the Dodgers – provided he makes it through camp. A similarity could be drawn to Wade Davis, but that would be the absolute best-case scenario. There’s a much greater chance he crashes and burns. During an interview on “Dodger Talk” on Wednesday, Zaidi said he and his crew would look at failed starters to convert to relievers. Nicasio seems to fit the bill perfectly.
He saw his velocity jump a bit after throwing 20 2/3 innings of relief to close out the 2014 season. See this tweet by Daniel:
Nicasio average fastball velocity as starter in 2014: 93.23
As reliever: 94.91
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) November 24, 2014
Either he or Mike will have a more in-depth post about Nicasio’s stuff and bullpen potential in another post. He throws in the low-to-mid-90s with a mid-80s slider and changeup. More often than not, starting pitchers moved to the bullpen see an uptick in their stuff, and Nicasio might be no different.
Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs tweeted on Friday about Nicasio.
Juan Nicasio looks to be a perfect bullpen arm for some team. Above average groundballs and swinging strikes form his fastball and slider.
— Jeff Zimmerman (@jeffwzimmerman) November 21, 2014
That’s really what you want out of a relief pitcher.
This move isn’t going to win Zaidi an executive of the year honor, but it’s a necessary move to find cost-effective ways to improve the “fringy” parts of the Dodgers. Nicasio is scheduled to make around $2.4 million in arbitration this year. If he pans out, Friedman and Zaidi will have added two quality relief pitchers in the last four days for a total of $5 million. That’s how you build a bullpen.
I fully expect the trades to get increasingly more significant, culminating in one for a starting shortstop and/or catcher. Like I’ve been saying: This is going to be a busy offseason for the Dodgers, especially on the trade front.