Longtime New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova has generated little buzz on the free agent market during the early days of the offseason.
Former Yankees starter Ivan Nova seemed like one of the primary beneficiaries of the barren starting pitching market this offseason, especially after Pittsburgh Pirates pitching guru Ray Searage worked his usual magic with the inconsistent 29-year-old righty.
Nova has been by turns brilliant and incredibly frustrating during his seven year MLB career, the first six and a half of which were spent in pinstripes. He has two well-above-average seasons on his resume, his rookie year in 2011 where he pitched to a 3.70 ERA in 165.1 innings pitched and his 2013 campaign, where he put up a career-best 3.10 ERA in 139.1 frames.
Even before the Tommy John surgery that ended his 2014 campaign after four starts, Nova has trouble maintaining his command and mechanics from day to day. Things got much worse after his return in the second half of 2015.
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From his return to the mound in June of 2015 until he was traded at this year’s August 1st trade deadline, Nova accumulated a 4.99 ERA and 4.99 FIP in 191.1 IP. Most of the damage against him during that span was done during the long ball, allowing 1.5 HR/9.
The majority of Nova’s case for a big free agent contract this winter rests on the 11 starts he made for the Pirates in the last two months of 2016 in which he put up a 3.06 ERA and 2.62 FIP in 64.2 IP, most notably walking just three of the 263 opposing batters he faced (1.1%).
Largely on the strength of that performance, MLB Trade Rumors ranked Nova as the tenth best free agent available on their 2016-2017 Top 50 MLB Free Agents list, projecting him to land a four-year $52 million contract. If not for those two months with the Pirates, it’s hard to imagine him getting more than a year or two.
While he will probably still end up getting paid way more than he deserves, so far things have been pretty quiet around Nova. The only team to be publicly linked to him since the end of the offseason is the Pittsburgh Pirates, who likely don’t have the financial means to give Nova the kind of deal MLBTR predicted for him.
As of Sunday, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said the team is “still engaged” with Nova’s representatives (via Stephen Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), but there have been no signs that anything is in the works.
In a weekend appearance on MLB Network Radio, Nova’s agent Greg Genske claimed that the starter had at least one offer around three years and $36 million, but didn’t reveal what club it was from. Plenty of teams could use an extra starter, but may balk at paying Nova like he’s a quality mid-rotation option.