Twins, RHP Ricky Nolasco agree to 4-year, $49M contract

USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota has inked the right-hander for $12 million per year.

The Minnesota Twins have agreed to terms on a contract with free-agent starter Ricky Nolasco, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Cotillo's report has been confirmed by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

The four-year deal will pay Nolasco $49 million in guaranteed money with a club option for 2018, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. The option is worth $13 million with a $1 million buyout and, although it is a club option, it can vest into a player option if Nolasco hits a certain innings threshold in 2016-17, reports Passan.

Nolasco, 30, put up some of the best numbers of his career with the Marlins and Dodgers in 2013. The right-hander posted a 3.70 earned-run average and more than seven strikeouts per nine in 199⅓ innings, marking the first time since 2008 that he's finished a season with a sub-3.00 ERA and allowed less than a hit per inning.

Despite always producing a fantastic strikeout-to-walk ratio -- 3.53 for his career -- the right-hander has never been much more than an inning-eater to stock at the back of the rotation. Nolasco has averaged 192 innings pitched per season over the last six years, but has never limited hits and dingers enough to be considered a top-of-the-line starter.

To that end, Nolasco is one of a very small company with more than 1,000 innings pitched to have a strikeout-to-walk ratio as high as his is and still manage to give up worse than a hit per inning and a home run per nine. That list contains solid pitchers like David Wells, but it also includes guys like Joe Blanton.

No matter how Nolasco fares with Minnesota next season, however, he's sure to help a rotation that finished dead last in Major League Baseball with a 5.26 ERA last year. The only frequent member of the Twins' 2013 staff leaving for free agency is Mike Pelfrey, but that doesn't mean he'll be the only one without a starting gig in the St. Paul next spring.

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