The D-backs dealt starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy to the Yankees on Sunday morning in a deal that reportedly saves the D-backs about $2 million this season and also brings back a serviceable starter in 26-year-old lefty Vidal Nuno.
The trade doesn’t come as a surprise on the D-backs end or to McCarthy, who recently said he expected a trade. Informed of the decision Sunday, McCarthy had mixed feelings.
"At least it’s an end to the rumors," McCarthy told FOX Sports Arizona’s Todd Walsh. "But it kind of settles in that you’re leaving a team that you’ve been with now for a year and a half, a great group of guys you’ve really grown to like. There’s kind of those positive emotions but then it’s also mixed with sadness for what you’re leaving behind."
McCarthy, 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA this season, was owed roughly $4 million through the end of the season. The Yankees reportedly agreed to pay McCarthy the $1 million assignment bonus triggered by the trade.
Saturday’s trade with the Angels reportedly will save the D-backs a little more than $1 million, and there could be more money-saving moves before the July 31 non-waive trade deadline. The D-backs opened the season with a franchise record $112 million payroll but entered Sunday’s game with a 36-53 record, making them clear sellers in trading season.
The D-backs sold perhaps as high as they could on McCarthy, who was coming off two of his best starts this season, which yield two of his three wins.
"I feel like I’m in a good place now," McCarthy said. "There’s some positives I’ve started to see. I still feel like I’ve thrown the ball well this year, but I think now I’ve got a better strategy."
McCarthy posted more than a few crooked numbers this season but often was the victim of hitters’ luck or an error behind him. McCarthy’s 3.79 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) — which according to FanGraphs measures what a pitcher’s ERA "should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average" — gives him a larger difference between FIP and actual ERA than any other pitcher in the league.
McCarthy, signed before last season for two years at $15.5 million, now goes from a team with the worst record in the National League to a team that entered Sunday 3-1/2 games out of first place in the AL East and steeped in tradition.
"It’s still the Yankees," McCarthy said. "Everybody knows the Yankees. … That’s a very cool thing and something I don’t think you could have any negative emotions about."
Regardless of how injuries or bad breaks played into it, McCarthy never truly lived up to the expectations the D-backs had when they signed him following two solid seasons in Oakland. In his first year with the D-backs, McCarthy went 5-11 with a 4.53 ERA and spent time on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
Now McCarthy gives the D-backs some salary relief as well as a controllable and relatively young player. Nuno, who appears likely to take McCarthy’s place in the D-backs rotation Tuesday, will remain under team control through the 2019 season and won’t be arbitration eligible until 2017.
In 17 appearances (14 starts) for the Yankees this season, Nuno is 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA and a 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings rate. As a starter over the past two seasons, Nuno is 3-6 with a 4.37 ERA. He may not prove part of the D-back’s long-term plans, but he at least gives the team an innings-eating arm until Patrick Corbin returns from Tommy John surgery and top prospect Archie Bradley is major league ready.