By Jason Shetler
After coming off a respectable 2015 season, pitching in the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen, Juan Nicasio signed a one-year deal with the Pirates in December of that year. Heading into Spring Training last year, Ryan Vogelsong was slated to be the fifth starter in the Pirates rotation. Plans changed however, as with Vogelsong struggling, and Nicasio performing lights out, the Bucs inserted Nicasio into the rotation instead.
Nicasio’s brilliant Spring showing did not translate as a starter during the regular season, as he posted a 5.83 ERA. In late June, the Pirates moved Nicasio to the bullpen, and he was a lot more effective, putting up an ERA of 2.93 in 39 appearances.
This past offseason, Nicasio and the Pirates agreed to terms on a one-year deal worth just over $3.6 million, in order to avoid arbitration. While Felipe Rivero is undoubtedly their best bullpen arm this year, Nicasio has been outstanding as well, posting a 2.53 ERA, along with a Fielding Independent Pitching of 2.72 in 50 games pitched. With Nicasio being considered a trade candidate, should the Pirates pull the trigger on him? -Here’s why I think it needs to be done.
Nicasio is having by far the best season of his big league career, and his trade value has never been higher. With neither the division or wild card being a sure bet, it could make for an easier decision to sell high on him. Nicasio also possesses a very team-friendly salary, so any contending club can get him, which would lead to a bidding war. While I’m not suggesting the return for Nicasio would be quite the level of Mark Melancon, the Pirates should still net a solid package for him.