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Salary arbitration preview 2015: Juan Nicasio

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Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Up next on the salary arbitration projections is Juan Nicasio, who the Dodgers acquired from the Rockies on Monday.

Nicasio was a candidate to be non-tendered in Colorado, and in fact was designated for assignment on Nov. 20. He made $2.025 million as a Super Two in arbitration in 2014, based on his work exclusively as a starter. But 2014 saw Nicasio struggle, get kicked out of the Rockies rotation, and he even spent six weeks in the minor leagues.

Nicasio was 6-6 with a 5.38 ERA and 5.45 FIP overall in 94 innings in 2014, but was better in relief, with a 3.48 ERA, 4.73 FIP and a 21.3-percent strikeout rate.

He is a weird case because his likely role going forward, as a reliever, is different than his previous role, which brought him a higher salary last season. With the tender deadline of Dec. 2 approaching, a non-tender wouldn't be surprising if the two sides can't work out a deal by Tuesday. But an agreement seems the most likely outcome here.

Here are a few pitchers who like Nicasio bounced a bit between starting and relief, and at similar service times.

Recent pitchers comparable to Juan Nicasio
Pitcher Years Svc Time IP W-L BB K ERA ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Juan Nicasio
2011-14 3.084* 381 21-22 135 294 5.03 89 4.39 1.3 4.6 tbd
Tommy Hunter
2008-12 3.066 469 33-24 111 263 4.77 92 5.03 3.7 3.1 $1,820,000
Alexi Ogando 2010-13 3.114 381 26-13 117 303 3.12 139 3.79 9.3 6.6 $2,625,000
Esmil Rogers
2009-13 3.135 375 16-21 149 311 5.52 79 4.40 (2.2) 2.7 $1,850,000
Brian Matusz
2009-13 3.156* 419 24-34 158 350 5.13 82 4.49 2.3 4.5 $2,400,000
*Super Two

Hunter, like Nicasio in 2014, had a hybrid role in 2012, though leaned more toward starting with 20 starts and 13 relief appearances. Hunter that season had a 5.45 ERA and 5.75 FIP in 134 innings, with 77 strikeouts and 27 walks, fairly similar to Nicasio.

Ogando has the same number of innings pitched as Nicasio, but wasn't a Super Two. Ogando also easily outpaces Nicasio in performance both in career and seasonal performance. Ogando in 2013 was 7-4 with a 3.11 ERA, with 72 strikeouts and 41 walks in 104 innings.

Matusz was a Super Two after 2012, and saw a 50-percent raise from $1.6 million to $2.4 million after pitching a solid season in relief for Baltimore in 2013 — 51 innings, 50 strikeouts, 16 walks, 3.53 ERA — much better than Nicasio's 2014 campaign.

2015 guess

Given Ogando's superior numbers, it's hard to justify a salary for Nicasio as high as $2.625 million. The folks at MLB Trade Rumors projected $2.4 million for Nicasio.

Matusz seems like a better comp, as a Super Two with similar career numbers, though with a better launch season and a reduced role for Nicasio I'll guess slightly less, at $2.25 million.