Pittsburgh Pirates Offseason: Ivan Nova Update

The Major League Baseball offseason has begun, and there is an update on Pirates free agent pitcher Ivan Nova.

After being acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 1, Ivan Nova posted a 3.06 ERA and a 2.62 FIP.  This is after posting a 4.90 ERA and a 5.10 FIP in New York.  Furthermore, Nova was able to decrease the 4.5 percent home run rate he had with the Yankees down to 1.5 percent with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  In a small sample of 11 starts, Nova performed well.

In fact, Nova performed so well that Ken Rosenthal reported that a general manager predicted Ivan Nova will get a five-year and $75 million contract. Combined with the fact that in late September Nova’s asking price was five years and $70 million according Bill Brink.  In fact, the Pirates made at least two offers to Nova before this offseason, this coming from Brink on September 22:

The Pirates began conversation with Nova and his agent, Greg Genske, in late August and made an offer the first week of September. Nova’s representatives told the Pirates they were looking for a deal in the range of five years and $70 million, according to a source.

The Pirates made a second offer, a source said, and discussions are ongoing.

Five years and $75 million seems like a steep price for a pitcher like Ivan Nova.  Nova has a career line of a 4.30 ERA and a 4.26 FIP.  In fact, for his career, his ERA- is 104 and his FIP- is 101.  That equates to being four percent worse in ERA when adjusted for the league and park, and one percent worse in FIP.

Even his 2017 Steamer projections do not scream five years and $75 million.  Steamer projects a 4.10 ERA with a 4.03 FIP for the soon to be 30-year-old starter. Given those numbers of past performance and his projection for 2017, then factor in his injury history (inflammation of tight triceps in 2013 and Tommy John Surgery in 2014), the price seems really steep.

But then considering the market, in which Rich Hill and Jason Hammel lead the class, the prediction might not be far off for a backend starter.  Last offseason Mike Leake received a five-year and $80 million with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Entering 2016, Leake posted a 100 ERA- and a 1-7 FIP-, similar to that of Nova.  The Giants gave Jeff Samardzija  a five-year $90 million deal.  Shark had an ERA- of 104 before 2016, the same as Nova, and he had a FIP- of 98.  Two comparable pitchers last season received deals around the five years and $75 million that the GM predicted Nova will get.  It would come as no shock if Nova received such a deal, it just likely won’t be in Pittsburgh.

*All numbers from fangraphs

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