The most humorous portion of the Twins’ passive behavior at baseball’s winter meetings earlier this month came when a team source told La Velle Neal, the Star Tribune’s man on the scene, that pitcher Ricky Nolasco would not be traded.
The reason Neal was given? The Twins didn’t want to sell low on Nolasco.
The guess here is that “selling low” would have meant the Twins being required to pay well over half of the $25 million remaining on Nolasco’s contract, and also to throw in a bona fide prospect to get a warm body for Ricky.
Earlier in the offseason, manager Paul Molitor was engaged in a radio interview and was asked, “If Ricky isn’t one of your five best starters this spring, would you have to keep him or would the Twins eat the $25 million?”
Molitor offered a modest laugh and said, “Do you think that’s my decision?”
Nolasco has received $24 million from the Twins while making 36 appearances (35 starts) in two seasons. He has pitched 196 ⅓ innings and given up a frightening 253 hits.
He has not been able to sustain anything as a starter. He will have a couple of good innings and then he starts getting knocked around.
Nolasco had the look of a competitive pitcher in 2015 spring training, and then the season started, and it was the same nonsense. He twisted an ankle, wound up undergoing surgery, disappeared from the mound until late September and wasn’t missed.
Won’t sell low?
Nolasco turned 33 last Sunday. You couldn’t give him away. And there’s nothing he can do in exhibition games to convince the team’s followers he belongs in a rotation that already will have four righthanders: Kyle Gibson, Erv Santana, Tyler Duffey and Phil Hughes.
The Twins have two choices: Write off the final $25 million and admit Nolasco has been Terry Ryan’s worst investment, or put him in the bullpen, and have him throw his fastball and quick breaking ball for an inning or two.
Either way, if we never see that spinner of a curve from Nolasco again, it still won’t wipe away the memory.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Players who would have been taken off 40-man roster by me rather than lose hard-throwing reliever Zack Jones in Rule 5 draft:
Logan Darnell: A lefty, but the view from here is that he has sub-Duensing stuff.
Ryan O’Rourke: Twins looked at him for 28 games as a lefty specialist in 2015. Not enough strikes. Next.
Kennys Vargas: Those few weeks in August 2014 were intriguing, but we discovered in 2015 why Kennys previously had not been considered a top prospect.