The Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to add at least one if not two veteran pitchers this off-season. That could be via trade, free agency, or retaining some of their own veterans. One piece of news is that it really seeming like that Ivan Nova wants to stick around.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review sat down with Ivan Nova on the topic. According to Sawchik, Nova told him that:
"“I don’t want to leave this clubhouse, to be honest. But it’s not up to me.”"
Let us start with the first half of that tweet. He does not want to leave this club house. That goes along with the constant cliche` of a player willing to take less to stay where he is comfortable. We here this term thrown around every time a player is close to free agency. We are already hearing this used about National’s free agent Mark Melancon. Many think the Pittsburgh Pirates have a chance to resign Melancon because he “loved it” here. Honestly who knows, it could be a factor, but in general most players do not think like that.
Just because a player is comfortable somewhere, does not mean they are going to value that over money and years on a contract. We saw that with J.A. Happ last off-season. Many believe that the Pittsburgh Pirates offered Happ and competitive deal in comparison to Toronto’s offer. Happ is receiving twelve million dollars a year from a team that he struggled with in years past. However, that did not stop him from resigning there, even know he was more comfortable in Pittsburgh, the stats do not lie. The game changer was that Happ got an extra guaranteed year out of Toronto who gave him three years versus the Pirates offering two years.
On the flip side we have seen players forgo free agency to remain with organizations that they are comfortable with. This year this happened twice for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Francisco Cervelli and David Freese were both free agents to be at the end of this season. However, both decided that they enjoyed playing here in Pittsburgh and it was not worth having the uncertainty of the off-season. Both could have gotten more money most likely. Freese got a two-year deal at 11 million dollars, and he will play as a part-time player. He could have gotten more money and been a starter for a few other teams across the league likely.
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Cervelli would have been a highly sought after free agent being a catcher. Catcher is one of the thinnest positions in baseball. This off-season leading the pack of free agents would have been Wilson Ramos, Cervelli, and Matt Weiters. Instead Cervelli decided to stick in Pittsburgh for three more years at 10.3 million per year. He probably could have gotten closer to 12.
The point here is that Ivan Nova can say he wants to stay here, but no one really knows except himself. The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to make him and offer, and it likely will be a competitive offer compared to others. However, it will be up to Nova if he wants to take the max offer and earn a few million more per year or have an extra year of control. Or if Nova wants to stay in Pittsburgh where he knows he can have success and enjoys pitching, where he can possibly boost his value even more for his next deal, but take a little less now. As much as fans complain, it will not change. This is part of the Pittsburgh Pirates strategy. You can call it right, wrong, cheap, whatever you want, but the fact is this is how the Bucs operate.
The second half of the tweet Sawchik quotes Ivan Nova saying that it is not up to him. This connects to what I was just saying. In a way it is up to him. He is the one who, in the end, decides to put his name on the contract or not. However, that is not what he meant by it. If you read more into it, he is saying that there are multiple factors in play. These include the Pittsburgh Pirates making a competitive offer to him. Ivan Nova knows he has pitched very well here, and he knows what kind of money he can get on the open market.
As much as he wants to stay here, it is out of his hands if the Pittsburgh Pirates give him a respectable deal. Also he has his agent and family. The agent will give him his opinion and advice and push him in a certain direction. His family he has to look out for as well. They may like a certain area, or want him to stay in Pittsburgh, or even return to New York their original home. I have seen many fans saying that it really is up to Nova, and it is to a certain degree. However, there are other factors that can influence a players choice.
I personally hope that the Pittsburgh Pirates do extend Ivan Nova to some degree. Do I hope they make a large investment, one that may not be warranted for the two months of success he has had? No. But at the same time, the Pirates need to retain him. Next year they are heading into the rotation with a lot of young pitchers, many of whom have not pitched a full MLB season. Nova on the other hand is an established veteran who would be a solid #3 pitcher to slot in behind Cole and Taillon.
Ivan Nova has proven that he can pitch effectively as a Pittsburgh Pirate. The Pirate’s philosophy obviously is working well with the type of pitcher he is. Obviously he is not perfect, and nor are we expecting him to be. By no mean is he an ace or expected to be this team’s number one pitcher, or any team’s for that matter. Because of this he will not get top shelf money, but still will get a solid contract that would be a bigger deal for the Pirates.
The Pittsburgh Pirates can afford to “go out of their comfort zone”. They have a lot of money off the books for the 2017 season and have a lot of young players making league minimum. The player wants to stay here and the Pirates need a veteran pitcher. Do not let another fixed pitcher go have success for someone else. We all saw the struggled of this starting staff early this year, avoid it by retaining Ivan Nova.
Finally all numbers are courtesy of Baseball Reference
Also, if you have any thoughts on Ivan Nova comment below!