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Ricky Nolasco: Rockies Offseason Trade Target?

Florida Marlins beat writer Juan C. Rodriguez wrote in the Sun Sentinel earlier today that starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco may be on the trading block after a disappointing season.

And the Colorado Rockies should be first in line with a trade offer in hand.

Nolasco finished this year with a 4.67 ERA and is one of the league leaders in hits allowed. That's not good. But he's also thrown 185+ innings in three of the past four years. That is good, especially for a Rockies team that has become desperate for experienced starting pitching. Colorado is looking likely to enter the 2012 season with a shockingly young group of starting arms, with Jhoulys Chacin, Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Juan Nicasio, and Jason Hammel all serious candidates for the rotation. It's likely that Nicasio is the second oldest member of that Opening Day rotation (provided he proves himself healthy in Winter Ball). 

With Aaron Cook's contract set to disappear (and Manny Corpas' buyout gone after this season), Colorado should be able to absorb Nolasco's $9 mil contract in 2012, and the $11.5 mil he's owed in 2013 without raising payroll while still leaving room to acquire another bat like Josh Willingham. Christian Friedrich was rumored as the trade candidate during the Wandy Rodriguez waiver claim, and he would make a solid trade piece for the Marlins (who are always desperate for cost-controlled arms).

Colorado needs innings to save a beleagured bullpen, they need innings to keep them in games. Kevin Millwood has been a solid stopgap in his limited time, and should earn some consideration as a temporary piece of 2012's puzzle. But he doesn't have Nolasco's pure stuff, and potential upside. Jorge de la Rosa could return from Tommy John surgery in May or June, but with doubts about his recovery. Colorado has fared well with reclamation projects in the past (de la Rosa), and should take a chance on Nolasco. If he doesn't work out, there's really nothing left to lose.