Analyzing the McCarthy for Nuno deal

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The cleaning of house continues, with another piece marked "not wanted on voyage" as the Diamondbacks set sail on their journey into the future, away from Win Now Island.

What the Diamondbacks gave up

Brandon McCarthy

McCarthy was signed to a two-year, heavily back-laden contract worth $15.5 million as a free-agent in December 2012. At the time, Brandon was recovering from a nasty head injury resulting from a line-drive, and also had a long record of shoulder injuries. He had averaged less than 15 starts a year from 2007-2012, but had been pretty good when healthy - over his two seasons in Oakland, he had a 120 ERA+. However, McCarthy's time in the desert was bedeviled by a mix of more bad health, poor luck (a .334 BABIP over his season and a half) and an unfortunate fondness for serving up meatballs. The end result? He's one of nine with 15+ starts for us, and a negative bWAR.

Rk Player WAR GS From To W L IP H R ER BB SO ERA FIP ERA+
1 Russ Ortiz -2.2 28 2005 2006 5 16 137.2 174 113 107 87 67 7.00 6.06 64
2 Casey Fossum -1.4 27 2004 2004 4 15 142.0 171 111 105 63 117 6.65 5.78 69
3 Brandon McCarthy -0.7 40 2013 2014 8 21 244.2 292 136 129 41 169 4.75 3.77 79
4 Rodrigo Lopez -0.7 33 2010 2010 7 16 200.0 227 126 111 56 116 5.00 5.21 85
5 Steve Sparks -0.7 18 2004 2004 3 7 120.2 139 89 81 45 57 6.04 5.29 76
6 Robert Ellis -0.3 17 2001 2001 6 5 92.0 106 61 59 34 41 5.77 5.09 81
7 Willie Blair -0.2 23 1998 1998 4 15 146.2 165 91 87 51 71 5.34 5.67 79
8 Enrique Gonzalez -0.1 18 2006 2007 3 7 108.1 118 75 70 35 66 5.82 4.69 82
9 Brad Halsey -0.1 26 2005 2005 8 12 160.0 191 101 82 39 82 4.61 4.52 96

This year was particularly frustrating and perplexing, with McCarthy not just remaining healthy, but ramping up his K-rate to a career-high 7.6 per nine innings, and adding velocity, which should have helped make him more effective. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by his pitches flying out of the park at a hellacious rate, well above average. It's why his FIP in the table above is the only one below five. By all rights, McCarthy's results should have been a lot better. That they weren't is largely inexplicable, and left no-one on either side of the fence happy.

McCarthy's contract, like Joe Thatcher's yesterday, was due to expire this year, making him another obvious candidate to move, while he still had value. Or "value", since three months of service, from a pitcher whose skill could only apparently be measured in advanced metrics like FIP, was never going to have GMs queuing up outside Kevin Towers's office. To be harsh, it's a win-win for us. If McCarthy sucks, we're not paying him as much. If he performs like he (that word again) should in New York, then it's good he's no longer with us as, pragmatically, we focus on Tankapalooza 2014. Bottom line: either way, McCarthy being here is not in the team's best interests.

What the Diamondbacks received

Vidal Nuno

Quite a story, going back to his selection by the Indians as the 1,445th overall selection of the 2009 draft. They eventually released him, and he started 2011 pitching in independent ball, for the wonderfully-named Washington Wild Things. The Yankees signed him from there, and he made his way through their minor-league system, eventually making his debut in the majors on April 29 last year. In 22 games and 17 starts for them since, bouncing up and down from the minors, the 26-year-old (he turns 27 later this month) has a mediocre 4.78 ERA in 98 innings, with an underwhelming K:BB ratio of 69:32. In his favor.... Er, he has a pulse?

shoe had a good take on the stats: "He depends on getting ahead, probably tries to pitch backwards alot, and is all about lefty deception and getting guys looking when they are looking for something else. Not expecting much here, but maybe he will have some good fortune with the long ball. If he can keep the ball in the yard, and drop his HR/FB rate down to just below league avg for a while he could have some surprising success. But I don’t think he is going to be easy on the eyes with his stuff and approach. Doesn’t have put away stuff, obviously…..so he has to grind his way through at bats." I think someone else called him a younger version of Bronson Arroyo, which kinda fits.

He has been slotted into the rotation immediately, replacing McCarthy, so looks like he will be doing his part in Tankapalooza 2014 for a bit. [As a note, think that gives us 11 rookies on the 25-man roster now, and also leaves Wade Miley as the only survivor of our Opening Day rotation] He'll probably compete with the likes of Chase Anderson and Mike Bolsinger for a spot off the back of the rotation in 2015. Right now, all three would seem on the outside if - although it's a big if - Trevor Cahill returns to form, Archie Bradley prospers and Patrick Corbin comes back successfully from Tommy John.

Conclusion

Of course, some are panning it, a certain ESPN pundit complaining, "The bottom line is that they just dealt away an asset with some value and didn't get any future major league talent in return," or Rob Neyer Tweeting, "Seems like the Diamondbacks just set a new all-time record for selling low." However, McCarthy actually had absolutely no value to us at all, and given he went through waivers in May and no-one was interested then, it seems no-one else valued him either. The market rules in a case like this, and if the return is below some hopes, perhaps it should be a lesson to moderate our expectations. Or, perhaps, that front offices don't consider xFIP quite so predictive.

I wonder who'll be traded by the time I wake up tomorrow morning?

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