In the last week, Ricky Nolasco‘s contract extension was the only “big” news in the world of signings. Beyond that, only 4 other players finalized major league deals.
The Big Fish:
On December 20th the Florida Marlins signed RHP Ricky Nolasco (28) to a 3-year $26.5 million contract extension. He will make $6 million in 2011, $9 million in 2012 and a still reasonable $11.5 million in 2013. He can earn another $0.5 million per season by reaching a performance bonus based on innings pitched. Coupled with the 4-year $39 million deal the organization gave ace Josh Johnson last offseason, the team now has their top-2 starters under contract, at fixed rates, through 2013.
Nolasco has been maddeningly inconsistent from start to start over the course of his 5-year career but there is no doubt that he is incredibly talented as well. Over the last 3 seasons he has posted strong BB/9 rates of 1.8, 2.1 and 1.9. He’s coupled that with consistent SO/BB rates of 4.43, 4.43 and 4.45. His peripherals have been strong but the end results, at least in terms of ERA and ERA+ have not measured up. This is a case where FIP and WAR become very valuable evaluation tools and go a long way toward revealing Nolasco’s true value.
2008: 3.52 ERA, 124 ERA+, 3.77 FIP, 3.9 WAR
2009: 5.06 ERA, 85 ERA+, 3.35 FIP, 4.3 WAR
2010: 4.51 ERA, 93 ERA+, 3.86 FIP, 2.5 WAR
As you can see, the ERA and ERA+ numbers suggest that 2009 was a down season for Nolasco, but his FIP and WAR numbers tell a much different story. Ricky Nolasco has been an above average major league starter for the last 3 seasons. If he can contribute 10.7 WAR over the course of his latest extension the Marlins money will have been very well spent.
UPDATE (12/28): Michael Jong published an excellent Nolasco-based article over on Marlin Maniac today that is definitely worth reading.
The Little Fish:
The Washington Nationals signed OF Rick Ankiel to a 1-year $1.5 million deal with the potential to earn another $1.25 million in performance bonuses. The team also signed LHP Sean Burnett (28) to a 2-year $3.95 million contract.