Should the Yankees consider trading Ivan Nova?

As of a couple weeks ago, the New York Yankees hadn’t ruled out the possibility of putting starting pitcher Ivan Nova on the trading block. Something tells me that this possibility hasn’t gone away and with good reason. Sure we can all look at Nova’s struggles in 2012, and the fact that he’ll be 26 heading into the 2013 season, but there are other teams desperate for pitching. There are also other teams that may overlook Nova’s struggles and see potential in him. Whatever it may be, the Yankees have room to make him a bargaining chip in order to bring in some talent that may help the team sooner than later. 

Ivan Nova being on the trade market could open up a lot of choices for the Yankees to make. (Image: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Looking at what’s left in the free-agency market, mainly Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum and even Joe Saunders, more teams may be willing to trade for a promising pitcher. In my eyes, there are three possible destinations for Nova: Texas, Atlanta or Colorado. All three teams need pitching and in the worst possible ways. Let’s break down the three teams and who the Yankees could get in exchange.

Texas Rangers

Every offseason it seems the Rangers try to go after a big name pitcher. This year it was Zack Greinke. In previous years, the Rangers tried to get Cliff Lee back, but that blew up in their faces. In January, they were able to nab Japanese phenom Yu Darvish who turned out so far to be worth the money. However, one man doesn’t make a rotation. Derek Holland has struggled, Colby Lewis is a free-agent, Matt Harrison has shown some promise and other than that, this is a rotation on the verge of collapse. Nova would be a great fit in Texas. He’s young, has some electric stuff, but has his struggles. Like in New York, Texas’ high-powered offense can bail Nova out when needed and who knows, maybe a change of scenery would be good for him.

Now, who could the Yankees get in return? I’ll say it once and once only, Mike Olt. Now while this may seem a bit farfetched, Texas was aggressively shopping him recently, mainly for pitching. While Olt was brought up as a first-baseman and clearly Mark Teixeira isn’t going anywhere, why not transition Olt to third? After all, it was Olt’s primary position in the minors. Clearly the Kevin Youkilis signing almost nixes this trade, but thinking beyond 2013, Olt would be perfect. Alex Rodriguez is not going to play every day and we’ll need an actual third baseman who isn’t applying for their AARP card.

Atlanta Braves

With Atlanta, Nova would pose to be a very interesting piece in their rotation. Tommy Hanson is gone, Tim Hudson is getting up there in age and the Braves don’t seem all that confident in Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor. The only real positive in their rotation is Kris Medlen considering what he was able to put forth in 2012. With Nova, Atlanta could focus on a rotation focused on him, Medlen, Hudson and maybe Beachy as he’s been the more consistent pitcher between himself and Minor. Atlanta also has a pretty decent offense that could easily help out Nova, but who knows, maybe a switch to the NL might do him some good.

There’s one person on the Braves that sticks out to me in a trade, Tyler Pastornicky. The Yankees have no clear answer for shortstop and I’m pretty sure they’re tired of buying into Eduardo Nunez and his (lack of) defensive talent. Going forward, is Nunez really the guy you want replacing Derek Jeter, your team captain? Pastornicky is only 23 and with the emergence of Andrelton Simmons at short in Atlanta, Pastornicky may be out the door if Simmons continues to impress. Pastornicky could use some fine tuning in Triple-A, but it wouldn’t be long until he’d be ready to take over the reins.

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are a team that if you simply fix their pitching problems, admittedly a lot of work, then they have a legitimate shot at the NL West. With an offense powered by Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, Todd Helton, Michael Cuddyer, Dexter Fowler and yeah, you get the point, clearly their offense isn’t the issue here. In 2012, the Rockies finished 64-98, which translates into last in the NL West. Pitching wise in 2012, the Rockies ranked 30th across the board. Obviously they need some help and they don’t have much to work with. Maybe Nova, someone who’s found some success in probably the most pressuring environment in baseball, can help ease some of the tension there.

Josh Rutledge could be a very nice fit in New York. (Image: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

One particular person that stands out is another shortstop, Josh Rutledge. When Tulowitzki got hurt this season, the Rockies eventually brought up the 23-year-old rookie who filled in quite nicely. Rutledge played in 73 games and had an incredible .274/.305/.469 slash line. Not to mention he also slugged eight homers, had 37 RBIs, 25 doubles, five triples and seven stolen bases. Defensively Rutledge has some fine tuning to do, but he literally cannot be any worse than Nunez. The Rockies already struck gold with Tulo at short and if the rest of the infield holds up, it’d be a shame to make Rutledge, a kid with so much potential, a bench player. He could do wonders in pinstripes.

Conclusion

Thinking about it, the Yankees have enough starting pitching to fall back on if they were to trade Nova. There’s David Phelps, Adam Warren, Phil Hughes, Michael Pineda and sometime within the next year or so Manny Banuelos. Brett Marshall may also find his way up here at some point. A Nova trade could benefit the Yankees in a lot of ways, especially if they could reap the rewards such as Olt, Pastornicky or Rutledge. Is it possible that these teams would be willing to part with such talent? Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part. These are three teams that need starting pitching badly, especially Colorado and Texas. It may not pick up much steam now, but the Yankees should keep the market on Nova open.

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  • ikkf

    What kind of read do you have on Pastornicky? Are they projecting him to hit much or is he mostly a glove guy?

    Oh, and did you used to play bass for The Cars? ;-)

    • Benjamin Orr

      Thanks for your reply.

      From what we’ve seen from Pastornicky, he’s got a solid glove, but he’s not per say a power bat like Rutledge. He’s got a solid contact bat, but it’s really still early to tell where he’ll land. Regardless, I’d take him over Nunez.

      Haha, I actually get asked that more often than you’d think.

    • Jimmy Kraft

      Pastornicky has little to no power (~.100 ISO), doesn’t steal bases anymore, and his defense (limited to ~330 innings in the MLB) isn’t all that great. He’s young and could improve on those numbers, but I think Nova is much more valuable than Pastornicky and it’s not particularly close. I think Pastornicky projects to be a bench player, not a starting shortstop on a perennial contender.

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  • Jimmy Kraft

    I don’t think Nova would be enough to pry Olt away from the Rangers. While I don’t think 2012 is indicative of how Nova will pitch going forward, he’ll probably pitch closer between his 2011 and 2012 totals rather than to an one extreme. Trading him to another hitter-friendly park won’t help Nova either.

    As for Olt, he’s coming off a .288/.398/.579, 28 HR campaign at the AA level. He has extreme upside, while Nova is bordering on a middling career. I don’t see Texas dangling a power bat for a pitcher of Nova’s stature. There’s a reason he was rumored as the centerpiece for a R.A. Dickey trade, it’s because Dickey is a Cy Young winner.

  • jb

    I think the braves would definitely make that trade nova for pastornicky but to say the braves don’t have anything good in there rotation is ridiculous beachy was leading the league in era before he got injured an mike minor figured out out at the end of the an was dominating an Tim Hudson was still really good