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)
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)
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.
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.