TRADE: White Sox acquire SP Ivan Nova from Pittsburgh

Rick Hahn at his season ending media session stated his intentions of finding solutions for both the starting pitching staff and bullpen. After obtaining reliever Alex Colome a couple of weeks ago via trade, Hahn pulls off another deal by acquiring starting pitcher Ivan Nova from Pittsburgh, first reported by Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray of The Athletic. 

 

Nova is entering the final year of his three-year deal which he signed with Pittsburgh back in 2017. His salary for the 2019 season will be $9.167 million ($8.5 million in base salary + $666,668 in signing bonus) as he’ll fill the void that James Shields leaves after his option was declined by the White Sox. 

In 2018, Nova had a 9-9 record with a 4.19 ERA and 4.57 FIP. Not much of a strikeout artist racking up 114 punchouts over 161 innings, Nova does a pretty good job limiting free passes. Posting BB/9 of 2.0 in 2018, and 1.7 in 2017. If that carries over to this season, it would be much welcomed as the entire Sox starting staff had a BB/9 greater than 3.4 in 2018. 

In exchange for Nova, the White Sox gave up rookie-league righty Yordi Rosario and $500,000 international pool money (updated).

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Otter
Member

I’m guessing Tyler Danish.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

While I agree that the Sox are probably not sending anyone who’s anyone back to Pittsburgh, Bruce Levine’s comment that it’s not a “big name prospect” should be taken with a grain of salt, because I’m pretty sure that guy was in a radio interview and had no idea who Micker Adolfo was.

yinkadoubledare
Member

This strikes me as a salary dump, so it ought to be a pretty low-level prospect?

jorgefabregas
Member

Boy, he really is a Shields stand-in with that homerun rate.

zerobs
Member

The homers won’t be as damaging without the walks.

GrinnellSteve
Member

For every one he gives up, Harper will hit 2.

As Cirensica
Member

James Shields would have been cheaper, and probably will pitch more innings

melidoperez
Member

Also, worse.

As Cirensica
Member

Also, who cares if it is Shields or Nova?

Greg Nix
Editor

I do. Shields sucks. Nova is decent.

As Cirensica
Member

The difference is pretty much negligible. Nova has pitched more than 180 innings only once. He averages a tab bit more than 122 innings per season.

Also, Nova is not decent. He is arguably not even average. He is probably gonna be liked because he is better than Shields. He does have a bit of upside.

What some people see: He is better than Shields
What I see: 9 million less available to throw at Machado and or Harper (or both)

Greg Nix
Editor

Take your blinders off. The Sox need much more than one player, even if they’re as good as Harper as Machado. And if $9 million is the difference between signing one of those guys or not, than Reinsdorf isn’t seriously committed to the pursuit anyway.

As to the difference between Shields and Nova.

As Cirensica
Member

5.9 WAR in the last 4 years. That’s 1.5 WAR per year. I know it is not evenly spread, but I hardly deem that decent.

JA Happ is decent.

35Shields
Member

Consider that the 1.5 WAR projection that he gets from Steamer is the highest projected WAR that Steamer gives to any member of the starting staff.

I would have liked Happ as well, but he’d also probably require at least an extra ~$20m in guaranteed money.

Right Size Wrong Shape
Member

They won’t lose out on one of those guys because of $9MM.

As Cirensica
Member

I believe this is a fallacy. Every team has a max point. Oh, it’s just 2 million more,…then oh..it’s just 9 million more. When you count the “oh it’s just X more” amounts, you discover you over budget for 40 million, and that’s not how this works. I don’t think serious budgetary decisions work like that.

zerobs
Member

MiGo signed for 6m two years ago, they took on Soria’s contract (9m?) last year so this really is just in line with what they’ve been doing recently.

Right Size Wrong Shape
Member

1) I’m pretty sure the plan for the offseason wasn’t trade for Colome and Nova and sign Harper and we’re done. If you sign Harper or Machado you are also going to start putting pieces around them.

2) If they thought that trading for Nova would in any way prevent them from signing Harper they wouldn’t have done it. This deal, or one like it could be made at any time.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Looks like it’s not Spencer Adams after all

karkovice squad
Member

Fernando Tatis, Jr.’s brother, Fernando Tatis, Jr.?

This will end poorly.

Ted Mulvey
Editor

No no no, they’re for in-season trades only.

yinkadoubledare
Member

A presumably live arm (decent K and BB numbers?) who only hit US rookie ball this last season in his age 19 season. This indeed looks like a salary dump for a lottery ticket.

GreatjonHumber
Member

old 19 year old too – 20 in a month.

yolmers gatorade
Member

He fits the Sox timeline with the prospects, and he has a good chances to produce over 1 WAR and add surplus value. I would like to see the Sox sign another pitcher to a longer contract. Giving the 2020 rotation to the best 5 of the youngster is still kind of dangerous proposition. Someone like Happ would bring some stability to the rotation and help compete in 2019 too.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

So as with the Narvaez trade before it, I’m more interested in what the move means than what it is.

Converting Narvaez to a 2-years-of-control closer best fits the narrative of competing sooner rather than later. This move? I’m not sure.

Obviously, there is zero wrong with trading a prospect none of us have ever heard of for one year of an innings-munching pitcher. The trade itself is completely unobjectionable. But what does it say about the White Sox are angling to do?

A rebuilding team would DEFINITELY take on a guy like Nova for a single year’s commitment. He provides veteran mentorship, a non-prohibitive salary, a good track record of health, and the ability to eat innings amidst less-certain options. In fact, he’s such a good fit for a rebuilding team that it makes me worry a little bit that the White Sox are mostly going to round out their offseason with similar stopgap moves.

If the Sox were to push for it this year, I would think they’d probably try to fill their last two rotation slots with at least one impact arm (read: a good bet to provide 3.0+ WAR). Acquiring Nova somewhat dampens my expectations that they will do that (though acknowledged, it certainly doesn’t rule it out). They’re certainly a better team with Nova than they were without him, but that’s true regardless of what non-replacement-level help they planned to bring in for the rotation. And they always were going to have to bring in someone.

As always, the default, “best” answer is, “just wait and see what happens”. We’re all trying to read the tea leaves here, though.

Greg Nix
Editor

I think the true rebuilding move would be to bring back Shields. Nova is a move that could either help push for contention (if he’s the 5th starter) or paper over another rebuilding year (if he’s the 3rd starter).

metasox
Member

Though Colome might indicate competing sooner, it could also simply be that the Sox were ready to move on from Narvaez and Colome was the best return available – someone who fills a short term need and may subsequently be flipped.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

That’s possible too! However, it would change my evaluation of the move from “this is exciting and helpful” to “this is a nothingburger”

Sox-Me-in-St.Louis
Member

My thinking is they may have a series of moves planned if Harper does sign, such as trading for a mid rotation starter using a package based around one of well regarded OF prospects. If that’s the case, add in signing Kuchel or Happ, Nova can be your fifth starter and Giolito can start the year at AAA to serve as depth while trying to figure it out. If they are truly trying to compete in 2019, handing a rotation spot to Giolito shouldn’t be happening.

Throw in that Nova is a pretty minimal commitment here, if they don’t add as we hope he can still eat some innings as a pretty meh move. Here’s to hoping they view him as a 5th starter and still plan on adding two more starters.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

That is the optimistic take — that the Sox can still pivot if the big dominoes fall their way, which is valid.

Sox-Me-in-St.Louis
Member

Yeah, I’ve embraced the optimism of a big off-season despite all the prior evidence to the contrary. Prepared to be let down but I like that this move can work in both directions at least.

metasox
Member

If one of those two signs, it is reasonable to think the Sox have to make moves to at least appear credible – something much better than 100 losses – in ’19. Both for fan marketing and to keep the player happy.

karkovice squad
Member

I’m partial to this just being a move without wider ramifications. A 1-year bridge at the back of the rotation to the rest of their pitching prospects makes sense regardless of where they are in the rebuild.

melidoperez
Member

I agree with pretty much all of that, and honestly think they are operating in a way that simply allows for both, because in reality how much control can you feel like you have WRT Harper/Machado?

We’d all obviously love the 5-7 win boost of the MVP candidate, but there are lots of ways to improve around the margins. Everybody is saying Nova replaces Shields, but maybe he replaces those Santiago/Fulmer/Gonzalez starts, and like you said a 3 WAR pitcher replaces Shields. I know he is the antithesis of sexy (is fat), but Lynn’s velocity bounced back last year another year past his TJ, and he wouldn’t require one of those big deals despite having a history of that 3ish win pitcher. Numbers with NY were really good.

Honestly think there are a number of moves that fit either scenario, and very few that would hurt their fortunes moving forward. It’s the beauty of sitting on a pile of money.

zerobs
Member

Lynn’s numbers looked good because he faced the White Sox four times. He might look good as long as he doesn’t face a good team more than once.

melidoperez
Member

fWAR
2.8
3.7
3.4
3.1
TJ
1.4
2.9

Decent history, and at least some of those games weren’t against the White Sox.

ndsoxfan
Member

It gives you cover.  You could roll with Rodon, Lopez, Nova, Giolito, and some combo of Covey, Stephens and Migo type signings or you could sign Happ or trade for Greinke and bump everyone back…

MadManx
Member

This moves them from 20 WAR to 22ish WAR in the fangraphs depth charts. They need at least 35 per the last Jeff Sullivan study to make the playoffs. That’s Harper plus Machado or one of them plus a centerfielder, good starter and a bullpen upgrade.

Jim Margalus
Admin

Phillies signed an outfielder.

GrinnellSteve
Member

Do the Phils have another hole in the outfield? Obviously Harper would help any team, but does this signal a move toward targeting Machado over Harper?

Jim Margalus
Admin

They needed help in both corners. Cutch for 3/$50M probably doesn’t take them out of another upgrade.

NDSox12
Member

With Hoskins likely moving to 1B, they still have room for another outfielder. Herrera is the only near certain starter on the roster.

Greg Nix
Editor

This probably makes them signing Harper (and certainly BOTH Harper and Machado) marginally less likely. But I doubt Nick Williams is ultimately standing in the way of Bryce Harper.

GrinnellSteve
Member

Thanks. I had no idea what their depth chart looked like.

yolmers gatorade
Member

0h shit, it’s happening! Sox gotta be the front runner for Harper now.

GrinnellSteve
Member

Is there any chance having Nova around to tutor the youngsters can help some (even one) of them throw more strikes?

asinwreck
Member

Andrew McCutchen got three years, plus an option. Hm.

Cutch gets 50M for 3

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 11, 2018

Eagle Bones
Member

They still haven’t said what kind of option this is, right? That’s a fairly large point in this contract.

karkovice squad
Member

$15m, $3m buyout.

yolmers gatorade
Member

Bruce Levine is throwing some cold water on any plans to really compete in 2019:

White Sox likely to add other one year vets as part of plan to develop their good group of young position players. Catching fortification is a high priority while Collins develops .

— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 11, 2018

Patrick Nolan
Editor

Shit. How do we weigh this against Bruce Levine being wrong about literally everything?

yolmers gatorade
Member

What’s he been wrong about?

As Cirensica
Member

literally everything

Sophist
Member

I’m going to treat this question as sincere . . . just one example of a bad take: earlier this year, he argued that Michael Kopech should be moved to closer. The reason, he throws really hard so why not? That’s an indirect quote, pretty close to the original.

He also spends a lot of time valuing pitchers by wins . . . .

yolmers gatorade
Member

That does not mean that he is wrong about what the Sox offseason plans are.

Sophist
Member

I’m thinking pnoles was thinking much more broadly about the wrongness of Bruce Levine.

Just listen to him on Score podcasts a couple times; it’ll be clear.

karkovice squad
Member

This is pablum. “Part of plan” is a vague enough caveat to be meaningless. It’s true of like, almost every team.

The catching thing just adds more confirmation that Zavala isn’t plan A.

dwjm3
Member

Olney is reporting the Sox are interested in Grandal…so Bruce is wrong again

karkovice squad
Member

Eh, that could be read as a separate point. But this is already way more pixels than Levine deserves.

yolmers gatorade
Member

I’m sure agents spread these rumors around or exaggerate a team’s interest as a bargaining strategy. It’s not like the media has an real interest in being objective when a signing can happen in a matter of seconds. I am sure everyone is getting played and wrong to some extent.

dwjm3
Member

I imagine the media is able to sniff some of that out and it ends up not being reported.

zerobs
Member

They’re at the winter meetings. They are paid to report something, no matter how flimsy it is. They aren’t being paid to report “Nothing going on with the Cubs or Sox” even if it is the closest thing to the truth.

35Shields
Member

Yes please

The White Sox pushing to take a step forward in 2019. Nova improves the rotation, and they're looking at Yasmani Grandal as a possible catching upgrade.

— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 11, 2018

Eagle Bones
Member

This would be fun.

PopeDonnPall
Member

First reaction is another trade that leaves us mired in mediocrity. This doesn’t do anything to entice to impress on free agents hoping to contend in near future. Not a bad trade. Just a blah trade. One big add with money saved makes it all okay.

Greg Nix
Editor

Good.

Soxfan2
Member

IMO the White Sox need to make at least 1 of these three moves if they want to contend at any point in the next 2-3 years:
1) Sign Harper or Machado
2) Sign Grandal
3) Trade for Greinke 

knash
Member

#Dodgers, #Reds have talked multiple times, sources tell The Athletic. Different packages being discussed; Puig in play as well as other LAD outfielders, pitchers. Dodgers want to clear money for other pursuits. Puig projected $11.3M in arb, per @mlbtraderumors, Alex Wood $9M.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2018

In my estimation, Dodgers clearing money and OF space can only be very bad for the White Sox.

MrTopaz
Member

Ramos reports that Bryce Harper was seen at the park last Thursday. https://t.co/7DZlXwQDOH

— Brian Bilek (@BrianBilek_) December 12, 2018

 

I don’t know how reliable Bilek is, but two meetings (Thome in Vegas, and Thome again bringing him to the park) seems like the Sox are taking their shot as well as we could hope.

dongutteridge
Member

Boras playing the Sox and every team, yet again. 

vanillablue
Member

Let’s see if I can embed tweets correctly…

Just an FYI, I heard #whitesox's Kenny Williams likes Belt generally a player. They're going to need a longer-term solution at 1B because Jose Abreu is a year away from free agency. Abreu has RH power. #SFGiants claim they bid high for him out of Cuba. Abreu reportedly is …

— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) December 12, 2018

… attracting some interest in Vegas. Generally I doubt Zaidi would want to acquire potential 2019 FAs, but if #SFGIants can gain financial flexibility, who knows? And remember, Zaidi had a boss in Oakland who taught him how to acquire older players then flip them at deadline.

— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) December 12, 2018

…if I screwed it up, the Giants beat writer is hearing that they may be interested in dealing for Abreu, possibly in exchange for Brandon Belt.

GreatjonHumber
Member

Why would the Giants be interested in that deal? I mean I get why we would be, as Belt fits perfectly into our window. But it leaves the Giants with a huge hole to fill when they are trying to compete. 

vanillablue
Member

I doubt the Giants are trying to compete in 2019, but they also won’t be doing a full scale multi-year rebuild as the fan base wouldn’t put up with it (nor should they.) Belt and Bumgarner are probably their most tradeable assets. Trading Belt for Abreu gets them out of Belt’s contract (3 more years at $17M/yr), gets them a “name” player who can hit homers at AT&T Park, and leaves open the option of moving Posey to 1B in a year.

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