Report: Ricky Nolasco, Royals Agree to $1.5M Minor League Contract

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 2: Starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco #47 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park September 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
Brandon Wade/Getty Images

Ricky Nolasco and the Kansas City Royals reportedly agreed to terms Wednesday on a one-year, $1.5 million minor league contract that includes $250,000 in incentives, according to FanRag Sports' Jon Heyman.

Nolasco had a $13 million club option for the 2018 season that the Los Angeles Angels opted against exercising. The decision was not a surprise after Nolasco experienced the worst full season of his MLB career.

The 35-year-old appeared in 33 games, finishing with a 6-15 record and a 5.10 FIP, which was fourth-highest among qualified starters, according to FanGraphs. Nolasco's 1.74 home runs allowed per nine innings were also the fourth-most in baseball.

Even in his prime, Nolasco didn't rely on overpowering stuff. The strategy didn't hurt him over the first half of his career as he could get batters out by mixing his pitches and hitting his spots.

However, that approach isn't serving him well into his 30s, as his lack of velocity is allowing opposing hitters to tee off at the plate.

According to Baseball Reference, Nolasco had a 3.83 FIP between 2006 and 2012, when he was 29. During that time, he also averaged 7.4 strikeouts and 2.1 walks per nine innings. After turning 30, his FIP rose to 4.16, while he averaged 7.0 strikeouts and 2.3 walks.

While Nolasco isn't the kind of addition that will drastically improve the Royals' starting rotation, he's worth a shot as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Innings eaters will always have a role in MLB. There's a certain value to a pitcher who can be counted upon to throw 150 to 200 innings in a season. It ensures a manager doesn't have to put too much stress on his bullpen.

Over 12 years, Nolasco has averaged a little over 157 innings a season, and that's even factoring in the 2007 and 2015 campaigns when he was limited to 14 combined starts.

Nolasco is a low-cost, moderate-reward signing for Kansas City. Especially considering he had a much healthier 4.14 FIP in 2016, per FanGraphs, a bounce-back season could be in store for Nolasco in 2018.

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