Colorado Rockies acquire
Nolan Jones and Kyle Freeland
Mike Burrows and Rodolfo Nolasco
The third and final trade we will look at sees the Pirates getting two players from the Colorado Rockies. The first is 2023 rookie sensation Nolan Jones. Jones’s first big league season couldn’t have gone better. In 424 plate appearances, Jones batted .297/.389/.542 with a 135 wRC+. He reached the 20/20 club, going yard 20 times with 20 stolen bases. He struck out in 29.7% of his plate appearances and had a .401 batting average on balls in play, but he also drew a ton of walks with a 12.5% walk rate. For those worried about a massive dip in away stats, well Jones actually had a higher away OPS than home OPS.
Jones’s defense recieved mix reviews. Outs above average viewed him as a negative defender with -4 OAA. But defensive runs saved thought he was one of the best at +10 DRS. UZR/150 also viewed him in an extremely positive light at +8.8. Jones has the strongest arms in baseball as his throws averaged 98.9 MPH from the outfield. No other player was within one MPH of him.
The second player in this trade heading to Pittsburgh is veteran lefty Kyle Freeland. Don’t be fooled by Freeland’s 5.03 ERA, 5.30 FIP, or 1.47 WHIP. Freeland had an ERA+ of 100, meaning that he was a league average pitcher. The lefty plays half of his games in the hitter friendly Coors Field. Although his home numbers were slightly better than his road numbers in 2023, his career home ERA is 4.80 while his career away ERA is only 3.98. There is also a 65 point difference in home/away opponent OPS at .823 to .758. Freeland is a durable pitcher and has pitched 330.1 innings the last two seasons with 60 games started. He is only owed $47 million over the next three seasons.
The Pirates are sending two prospects back in this deal. Mike Burrows is the higher touted of the two. The top prospect missed nearly all of 2023 due to Tommy John surgery. But in 2022, he had a quality 4.01 ERA, 3.29 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP between Double-A and Triple-A. Burrows had a healthy 28.2% K-rate, 7.9% walk rate, as well as an 0.76 HR/9 through 94.1 innings of work. Burrows is a spin rate darling, displaying elite spin on his mid-90s fastball and his curveball. He made great strides in 2022 to make his change-up an extremely viable pitch.
Outfield prospect Rodolfo Nolasco is the other prospect in this trade. Nolasco batted .214/.351/.440 with a .372 wOBA, and 116 wRC+ at Low-A Bradenton in 2023. Nolasco was a three-true-outcomes kind of batter. He slugged 20 homers in 444 plate appearances with a .226 ISO. He also had an outstanding 16% walk rate. But he struck out in 34.2% of his trips to the dish. There’s no question about Nolasco’s power potential. He has off the charts raw power. But this is the second year in a row he struck out over a third of the time.
Freeland is considered a major negative in this trade, but I am not entirely sure why. Freeland is a durable left-handed pitcher who has only ever once posted an ERA+ below 100 in a season. That is a steal for less than $20 million a season. In no case should it de-value Jones as much as it does. But again, we aren’t here to look at something realistic. We are looking at why Baseball Trade Values isn’t a good website.