The Pirates are having a busy week with the signing of Ivan Nova to a three-year deal just three days after signing Daniel Hudson to a contract. Today, Nova agreed to a 3-year/$26M deal with a $2M per year incentive due to performance on the field. After letting J.A. Happ get away last offseason, the Pirates didn’t want to see a younger Nova get away.
Two months ago this looked like a deal that would never happen after Nova came out and said he wanted a ridiculous 5-year/$70M deal. Clearly that kind of offer was never out there as teams were reluctant with Nova’s not so stellar track record before coming to Pittsburgh.
It was a tale of two halves for Nova in 2016 as the Pirates dealt Tito Polo and Stephen Tarpley to the Yankees at the deadline for Nova. In 21 outings with the Yankees, Nova posted a 4.90 ERA, 5.10 FIP and a below average 89 ERA+. Like we’ve seen with so many pitchers that come to Pittsburgh, Nova saw a resurgence in 11 starts with the Bucs, posting a 3.06 ERA, 2.62 FIP and a well above average 137 ERA+. His strikeouts per nine increased and his walks per nine went from 2.3 to an incredible 0.4 mark. Nova walked three batters in 64.2 innings with Pittsburgh. While that’s not likely sustainable, the Pirates are betting that he’ll fall somewhere in the middle, continue to throw strikes and high groundball rate and provide them with a 3+ WAR pitcher and at 3-year/$26M, he could be a steal if he shows that value.
In just a couple of days, the Pirates have debunked three myths with the signings of Nova and Hudson. The myths are:
♦ The Pirates are cutting payroll—That is completely false and the Pirates just showed that by inking these deals that put the current payroll over $100M. When the news that the Pirates were listening to trade talks on Andrew McCutchen, most fans freaked screaming that the Pirates were cutting payroll and dumping salary. I even saw some misinformed tweets claiming payroll would be under $70M. False, false, false. The Pirates are not cutting payroll.
♦ Financial flexibility—The argument that the Pirates weren’t going to spend the money they saved after trading Francisco Liriano at the deadline is officially dead. With Hudson ($5.5M per year) and Nova ($8.3M estimated per year) totaling $14.16M approximately per year, that number exceeds the $13.66M owed to Liriano for 2017. They took the saved money and locked up Nova and also added a solid righty for bullpen depth, possibly even to close. The Pirates did what they said they were going to do and reallocated that money on two needs, including one for the rotation. This argument is dead.
♦ The Pirates have a weak rotation—The talk from July until this week has been that the Pirates can’t win next year with this current rotation. Too many question marks, too many possible injuries, too many young guns and not enough innings eaters and solid pitchers, right? The Pirates knew this and tried to solve the problem by trading McCutchen for a quality SP. Well that didn’t work out, they went back to the FA market and signed Nova for under market value. Nova slots right in the middle of the rotation now with Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Chad Kuhl and Tyler Glasnow. I think that could be a solid rotation, one that could win plenty of games. But there’s still rumors from national media members that the Pirates are still in on Jose Quintana.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 22, 2016
The Pirates have worked hard to try to make a trade for Jose Quintana, whose modest contract is perfect for their budget size.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 21, 2016
The Pirates don’t need Quintana exactly, but if they were to trade their prospects for a Quintana, their rotation goes from solid to a strength. I won’t believe it till I see the deal confirmed though as this would be a big jump for Neal Huntington to take in a deal that would give prospects away for a proven solid starter like Quintana.
The Pirates still need to make two moves to add Hudson and Nova to the 40-man roster.