It’s Time for the Pirates and Juan Nicasio to Talk Extension

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Francisco Cervelli
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Francisco Cervelli /

It is time for the Pittsburgh Pirates and one of their relievers to begin discussing a contract extension

After starting the 2016 season in the Pirate rotation, Juan Nicasio was moved to the bullpen by Clint Hurdle and the Pirates last June. Since then, Nicasio has been one of the best relievers in the National League.

Juan Nicasio is set to hit free agency after the season. Due to this, in my opinion, the Pirates should have traded Nicasio at last Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline. However, since they did not move Nicasio, it is now time to talk contract extension with the flame-throwing righty.

Felipe Rivero, George Kontos, and A.J. Schugel will give the Pirate bullpen a nice core to start with for 2018. This group is another left-handed reliever and another right-handed reliever away from being a strong bullpen. Juan Nicasio could be that right-handed pitcher.

One reason that Juan Nicasio is a valuable reliever is his flexibility. Nicasio has the stuff to pitch in one inning situations and blow opposing hitters away. However, he can also go multiple innings if need be.

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In 2017 Nicasio’s primary role has been as Felipe Rivero’s setup man. Even before moving to the setup man role, Nicasio was used in high leverage situations. He is a pitcher that has earned Clint Hurdle’s trust in high leverage situations.

In 52 innings pitched this season Juan Nicasio has been lights out for the Pirates. He has allowed just 41 hits, he is averaging 9.52 K/9, and just 3.12 BB/9. His 45.9 percent ground ball rate is a career-high, while his 0.35 HR/9, 2.68 FIP, and 2.25 ERA are all new career-lows.

As was said above, Juan Nicasio is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. This means the Pirates’ best chances of retaining Nicasio is to begin discussing a contract extension now before he hits the open market.

The Pirates should offer Juan Nicasio a contract that is somewhere in the range of 2 years and 12-14 million dollars. This is similar to what Nicasio would get on the open market, and would be a very affordable deal.

Even if the Pirates would feel the need to clear salary for Nicasio, odd are, they will look to move Daniel Hudson this offseason even if Nicasio is not extended. Hudson has been a disaster this season and is owed 5.5 million dollars next season. With or without Nicasio it would behoove the Pirates to try and move Hudson’s contract this offseason.

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It is time for the Pirates and Juan Nicasio to begin discussing a contract extension. Nicasio is set to hit free agency this offseason and will be a hot commodity on the reliever market. The best chance the Pirates have of keeping Nicasio is to begin discussing an extension now, and that is exactly what they should do.