LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers continued its early offseason of attempting incremental upgrades to the fringes of the roster, on Monday acquiring pitcher Juan Nicasio from the Rockies for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Nicasio was designated for assignment by Colorado on Thursday.
The team's quest to improve whenever possible has even meant jettisoning an earlier addition. To make room on the 40-man roster, the club designated for assignment infielder Ryan Jackson, who the Dodgers claimed off waivers from the Padres on Nov. 3, the first acquisition made by new team president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
Nicasio was 6-6 with a 5.38 ERA and 5.45 FIP in 93⅔ innings with the Rockies in 2014, but the 28-year-old right-hander's numbers were much better in relief. In 14 starts Nicasio had a 5.92 ERA and 5.65 FIP in 73 innings, with 14-percent strikeout rate and 7.9-percent walk rate.
In 19 relief appearances, he had a 3.48 ERA and 4.73 FIP in 20⅔ innings, with a 21.3-percent strikeout rate and 6.3-percent walk rate. Opposing batters hit just .227/.275/.400 against him in relief, compared to .305/.361/.546 as a starter; essentially the difference between Dayan Viciedo and Edwin Encarnacion.
As a stater, Nicasio's four-seam fastball averaged 93.22 mph in 2014, per Brooks Baseball, and averaged 94.91 mph in relief.
Among the 330 pitchers to throw at least 50 innings in 2014, Nicasio's 45.9-percent ground ball rate is slightly above average, ranking 146th.
Nicasio also allowed 19 home runs in his limited mound duties in 2014, a career-worst 1.83 home runs per nine innings, though that seemed a bit inflated by his 18.3-percent home run to fly ball ratio, well above his 12.6-percent career rate.
It is unknown whether the Dodgers plan to use Nicasio as a starter on in relief.
Nicasio has three years, 84 days of service time, and is eligible for salary arbitration for the second time. He made $2.025 million as a Super Two (in the upper 22 percent of service time among those with at least two but not yet three years of service time) in 2014, so coming off his poor season could be a non-tender candidate if the two sides can't reach a contract agreement by the Dec. 2 tender deadline.
Nicasio is also out of options, having used option years in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
The Dodgers have 10 days to decide what to do with Jackson. They can try to trade him, or if he clears waivers can outright him to Triple-A Oklahoma City.