By Jason Shetler
Last offseason, Ivan Nova was uncertain about whether or not he was going to be in the New York Yankees rotation to begin the 2016 season. The first half of the year didn’t go well for Nova, as he posted a 5.18 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP, pitching between the rotation and bullpen.
With the struggles of Francisco Liriano and Jon Niese, the Pirates were looking to address their rotation at the trade deadline, and just like with J.A. Happ at the 2015 deadline, they decided to buy low on a starter by acquiring Nova from the Yankees in exchange for prospects Stephen Tarpley and Tito Polo.
Not only did Nova pitch extremely well for the Pirates, but he was their best starting pitcher in the second half. In 11 starts, he put up a 3.06 ERA along with a 137 ERA+ and had an even better Fielding Independent Pitching of 2.62.
Heading into this offseason, the asking price from Nova’s agent was said to be five years at $70 million, which was pretty outrageous, even with the free agent market for starting pitching being mediocre. During the Winter Meetings, manager Clint Hurdle mentioned on MLB Network Radio that both the Pirates and Nova had still been actively talking. Earlier this morning, it was reported by Robert Murray of Fan Rag Sports, and confirmed by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, that the Pirates brought back Nova on a three-year deal worth $26 million. Here now is my assessment of the deal.
The general consensus was that Nova was going to receive a three-year contract for about $36 million, which is the exact same deal that the Toronto Blue Jays signed J.A. Happ for last offseason. The fact that Nova is signing for $10 million less than what Happ signed for is quite a shock. While with the Pirates, Nova was able to throw strikes consistently, keep the ball on the ground and got batters to make weak contact. The value of that given the amount of money on this deal makes this a terrific bargain signing for the Pirates.