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Vidal Nuno 2017 salary arbitration preview

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LHP acquired from Seattle is eligible for arbitration for the first time

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

After reviewing a pair of Dodgers relievers — Luis Avilan and Josh Fields — I am tempted to use the same group of comparable pitchers for our next salary arbitration preview. But Vidal Nuno is a bit of a special case.

The Dodgers acquired Nuno from the Mariners on Nov. 7 in exchange for catcher Carlos Ruiz. The left-handed pitcher has three years, 15 days of major league service time, and is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, after earning $532,900 in Seattle in 2016.

Tuesday is the filing date for salary arbitration, and Friday, Jan. 13 is the exchange date, with players and teams swapping salaries if they haven’t already reached a new deal.

Nuno was used almost entirely in relief in 2016, starting just once in his 55 appearances for Seattle, putting up a 3.53 ERA with 51 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 58⅔ innings.

But Nuno also has 42 career starts, and made 28 starts in a season as recently as 2014. So I had to find pitchers with three years of service time who had reasonably similar career numbers to Nuno, also with experience both starting and relieving.

That group, going back three years:

Vidal Nuno comparable pitchers (career)

Pitcher Years Service IP G GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Pitcher Years Service IP G GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Vidal Nuno 2013-2016 3.015 329.3 126 42 5-20 97 4.48 3.3 1.4 TBD
Drew Pomeranz 2011-2015 3.013 291.7 107 49 14-24 103 4.20 3.1 2.9 $1,350,000
Robbie Ross 2012-2015 3.100 266.3 204 12 13-10 106 3.88 1.9 2.3 $1,250,000
Carlos Torres 2009-2015 3.114 336.0 209 16 23-24 91 4.11 1.4 1.1 $1,050,000
Zach McAllister 2011-2015 3.077 432.3 133 66 23-29 95 3.81 0.7 5.6 $1,300,000
Charlie Furbush 2011-2014 3.121 239.0 214 12 12-23 92 3.72 0.6 2.1 $1,300,000
Anthony Swarzak 2009-2013 3.038 353.3 131 28 13-22 93 4.31 2.3 1.0 $935,000
Vin Mazzaro 2009-2013 3.021 359.7 123 45 23-23 86 4.66 -0.4 1.0 $950,000

These pitchers were also picked because in their launch season they were used almost exclusively in relief, like Nuno. The only pitcher on this list with more than a single start in the launch year was Drew Pomeranz, who started nine games in 2015 but also relieved 44 times.

Vidal Nuno comparable pitchers (single season)

Pitcher Years Service IP G GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Pitcher Years Service IP G GS W-L ERA+ FIP rWAR fWAR Salary
Vidal Nuno 2016 3.015 58.7 55 1 1-1 115 4.51 0.9 0.0 TBD
Drew Pomeranz 2015 3.013 86.0 53 9 5-6 107 3.62 0.4 1.3 $1,350,000
Robbie Ross 2015 3.100 60.7 54 0 0-2 112 4.02 0.8 0.1 $1,250,000
Carlos Torres 2015 3.114 57.7 59 0 5-6 82 3.53 -0.5 0.4 $1,050,000
Zach McAllister 2015 3.077 69.0 61 1 4-4 144 3.15 0.9 0.9 $1,300,000
Charlie Furbush 2014 3.121 42.3 67 0 1-5 101 2.80 0.3 0.6 $1,300,000
Anthony Swarzak 2013 3.038 96.0 48 0 3-2 141 3.28 1.7 0.8 $935,000
Vin Mazzaro 2013 3.021 73.7 57 0 8-2 127 3.31 0.9 0.5 $950,000

In career numbers, Nuno tops this group of eight pitchers in Baseball-Reference WAR, but is in the middle of the pack in FanGraphs WAR. There is a similar disparity in the single-season numbers, tied for second in rWAR but replacement level in fWAR.

The average salary of the seven comparable pitchers is $1.162 million.

2017 guess

MLB Trade Rumors projected a 2017 salary of $1.1 million for Nuno. I think Nuno’s numbers hold up pretty well against Robbie Ross, both single-season and career, so I’ll guess $1.25 million.