Over at Twins Daily, Ted Schwerzler speculated about whether or not Andrelton Simmons was the worst free agent the Twins had ever signed. There was rampant disagreement with him (I also think it was Tsuyoshi Nishioka), but there was a lot of lobbying for Ricky Nolasco.
I feel like there is undue criticism or blame placed on Nolasco for his entire situation with the Twins. He was a fly ball pitcher that was signed to a team that trotted out an outfield of Oswaldo Arcia, Danny Santana and Josh Willingham, perhaps the worst outfield in Twins recent memory. His peripherals suffered for it, with Nolasco’s BABIP in the mid to high .300s for most of his time in Minnesota.
Nolasco’s FIP was a full run better than his ERA thanks mostly to the abysmal outfield defense behind him. The roster construction was a part of the problem, but so too was the importance placed on Nolasco’s signing. The Twins were unaccustomed to forking over a lot of money in free agency, and they pounced on Nolasco early, and gave him 49 million dollars over 4 years. It seemed like a lot, and the Twins were desperate for pitching. Despite never being an ace, and not really getting paid like one, Minnesotans had high expectations.
In the end, Nolasco was a reasonable middle of the rotation starter, based on his peripherals, but a poor fit for the team as it had been constructed. He didn’t come close to living up to expectations, however fair they may have been, and was ultimately traded with 2 years left on his deal for a pitcher that was even worse than he was.
The Twins again find themselves desperate for starting pitching, and will have to spend at least 12-13 million dollars a year for a #3 starter. In truth, they may have to strike early, and overpay a little bit. The numbers might make some locals expect the new pitcher to be a top of the rotation kind of guy.
Well, at least the Twins have a better outfield.