The Mariners have been selling off their international slot money like it’s Albanian lek (look it up) and it’s been a quiet afternoon in Bummerville until this came down from on bowtie high:
#Mariners in agreement with free-agent reliever Juan Nicasio on two-year contract, sources tell The Athletic. Pending physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2017
Our own Jake Mailhot was a huge proponent of a Nicasio signing, but he wound up being left off our off-season plan in favor of Yusmeiro Petit because it seemed like he’d cost more than the Mariners were willing to pay. With the Mariners losing out on the Ohtani sweepstakes, some theorized that Dipoto would pivot to spending big in the starting pitching market, even though that’s known not to be his preference. It looks like Dipoto as yet still isn’t willing to do that, but he is willing to get involved in a shorter-term deal for a reliever of Nicasio’s caliber. It helps that Nicasio is a multitool reliever: as a converted starter, he can start or go multiple innings, as well as work in higher-leverage situations, a setup role, or possibly even close. Nicasio fills the void left by Emilio Pagan, traded to the A’s in the Ryon Healy deal.
Nicasio has been solid for most of his career, but he really came into his own as a member of the Pirates organization, working with renowned pitching coach Ray Searage. Under Searage’s tutleage, Nicasio pushed up his K rate while cutting his walk rate down, while posting an FIP of around 3. Everything was going swimmingly until last season, when the Pirates, out of contention, made the somewhat bizarre decision to put Nicasio on waivers to save themselves some chump change. He was then picked up by the Phillies, who then flipped him to the division rival Cardinals for an infield prospect and a good old shot of karmic revenge.
We don’t have the contract details yet, but if what Nicasio gets is in the ballpark of what other relievers have gotten, expect around 2/$18-20MM or so. While a cool ~ten mill might feel like a lot to pay a reliever, Nicasio’s skill set gives the Mariners some flexibility without tethering them to the longer-term contract a starting pitcher would require. It’s hopefully not the last move we will see on the M’s pitching front, but patching up the Emilio-shaped hole in the bullpen was an important thing to get done.
Juan Nicasio signs a two-year, $17 million contract with the Seattle #Mariners.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 13, 2017
That’ll do. That number puts Nicasio right in line with the contracts secured by other, similar relievers like Neshek and McGee, and Nicasio offers a little more versatility.
Tfw you are quote-tweeted in the same breath as Nightengale and he looks like the reasonable one:
juan nicasio is one helluva negotiator— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 13, 2017
Have some water, Jon. And maybe take another look at your HOF ballot while you’re at it.