Pittsburgh Pirates: Ivan Nova the Starting Pitching Market

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Ivan Nova has been quite the story for the Pittsburgh Pirates since being acquired at the trade deadline. Not only has he been a great story for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but also across all of baseball.

With that many fans are talking about whether or not the Pittsburgh Pirates will be able to retain Ivan Nova this off-season.  So let us first taking a look at the upcoming free agent class:

Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

Starting Pitchers

Brett Anderson (29)
Clay Buchholz (32) — $13.5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Andrew Cashner (30)
Jhoulys Chacin (29)
Bartolo Colon (43)
Jorge De La Rosa (36)
R.A. Dickey (42)
Doug Fister (33)
Jaime Garcia (30) — $12MM club option with a $500K buyout
Gio Gonzalez (31) — $12MM club option with a $500K buyout
Jason Hammel (34) — $10MM club option with a $2MM buyout
Jeremy Hellickson (30)
Rich Hill (37)
Derek Holland (30) — $11MM club option with a $1MM buyout
Scott Kazmir (33) — can opt out of remaining two years, $32MM on current contract
Mat Latos (29)
Colby Lewis (37)
Kris Medlen (31) — $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Charlie Morton (33) — $9.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout
Jon Niese (30) — $10MM club option with a $500K buyout
Ivan Nova (30)
Jake Peavy (36)
CC Sabathia (36) — $25MM vesting option with a $5MM buyout
James Shields (35) — can opt out of remaining two years, $44MM on current contract
Alfredo Simon (36)
Edinson Volquez (33) — $10MM mutual option with a $3MM buyout
Jered Weaver (34)
C.J. Wilson (36)

So who is the best available pitchers?

When looking at the list there is not a whole lot to be excited about.  If you are a team who is looking for a quality starter chances are you will have to look to the trade market.  This list is filled with aging pitchers, injury prone ones, and simply just middle-to-backend of the rotation arms.  The best arms on that will definitely be on the market are Andrew Cashner, Rich Hill, and Ivan Nova.  So let’s breakdown each pitcher:

Andrew Cashner; 29 years old

Pitched with the Padres this years until he was dealt to the Marlins on July 29th.

Padres: 16 starts, 4.67 ERA, 1.387 WHIP, 2.23 K/BB, 4.95 FIP

Marlins: 7 Starts, 8 Games, 4.78 ERA, 1.619 WHIP, 1.60 K/BB, 3.81 FIP

Cashner did spend time on the disabled list in June.

Rich Hill; 36 years old

Pitched for the Oakland Athletics this year until he was dealt to the Dodgers on August 1st.

Athletics: 14 starts, 2.25 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3.21 K/BB, 2.55 FIP

Dodgers: 2 starts, 0.00 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 5.50 K/BB, 1.82 FIP

Hill has only made 16 starts this season and has been on the DL multiple times.

Ivan Nova; 29 years old

Pitched for the New York Yankees this year until he was dealt to the Pirates on August 1st.

Yankees: 15 starts, 21 games, 4.90 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 3.00 K/BB, 5.10 FIP

Pirates: 7 starts, 2.53 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 16K/BB, 3.09 FIP

Has been healthy all season, started the year in the Yankee’s bullpen.

So who is the best candidate?

It is not hard to determine who the best candidate is here.  Hill has the best all around numbers, but has made half the starts compared to the other two.  This is mainly due to his inability to stay healthy.  One thing that is leading to this is his age.  Hill is 36 years of age.  With his age and health issues Hill will not be getting a big contract. EST: 2 years, 16 million

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Cashner has a history of injuries as well.  He has only made more than 25 starts just one in the last four years.  What helps Cashner is he is still just 29 years of age and has the makeup of an upside pitcher.  His fastball sits in the mid 90s and he has the size that teams like at 6’5”.  The biggest issue is his stuff has not produced results.  Cashner’s inability to locate pitches and stay on the mound does not let him be consistent.  His numbers this year are not great, but because of his stuff and age he will likely get a solid multi-year contract.  EST: 3 years 39 million.

Finally, on to Ivan Nova.

Nova was a long a time part of the New York Yankees rotation.  He really struggled this year in New York.  When the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him many claimed it to be another “move to just make a move”.

However, Nova and the Pittsburgh Pirates put it together and once again made a great pairing.  Nova has been dominant with the Pirates pitching deep into games with low pitch counts.  He has thrown two complete games, and the ability to command the strike zone.  With that Nova has had great numbers in his 7 starts.  He also has been healthy all season.

Because he is entering his age 29-30 season next year Nova will get the biggest contract out all the pitchers on the free agent list.  With his rejuvenated career, refined mechanics, ability to stay healthy, and age, he will likely be highly sought after.  EST: 3 years 45 million with an option year.

So what for the Pirates and Nova going forward?

First of all, if the Pittsburgh Pirates want to retain Nova they will have to extend him before season’s end.  Of course one thing that is going for the Bucs is that he has had the bes success of his career here in Pittsburgh.

Edinson Volquez had great success as a Pirates, because of that he took the best offer and went to Kansas City, where he has struggled pitching to a 5.02 ERA.  Nova could see this as an example of what could happen if he leaves where he is having success.  However, Volquez is still getting paid either way.

Related Story: More on extending Nova

If Nova is not worrying about having continued success then he would take the money and run. This did work for JA Happ last year.  The Pittsburgh Pirates will have to no doubt “go out of their comfort zone” to sign Nova.  Finally, he is young enough to commit a multi-year contract to.  If things go south down the road they could always look to deal him ala Franky Liriano. Furthermore, the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates would be a better team if they could retain their trade deadline acquisition.

Also all stats are courtesy of Baseball Reference