Dodgers lose Ricky Nolasco after he signs four-year deal with Twins

Ricky Nolasco, thanks for the memories. They were short and sweet, aside from that ending.

Nolasco, the right-hander from Rialto, officially signed with the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, ending his half-season career as a Dodger.

Nolasco, who turns 31 on Dec. 13, wanted a five-year deal and the Dodgers weren’t interested in that kind of commitment, which is perfectly understandable. He ended up signing for four years with the Twins for a guaranteed $49 million.

If he pitches 400 innings in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the contract vests for another year at $13 million. Which would be a total of five years and $62 million, and a long way from where the Dodgers wanted to go.

“We knew [the Dodgers] weren’t going to be an option anymore, and that’s OK,” the Star Tribune quoted Nolasco at his press conference. “I got to play there a half a year, I can say I got to pitch for the Dodgers. But that’s in the past. I’m concentrating now on what we can do here in the city of Minnesota to turn this team around and help this team win.”

If Nolasco had any doubt about his return to the Dodgers, it had to be eliminated when they signed Dan Haren and all but added him to the rotation.

In 16 appearances (15 starts) for the Dodgers after being acquired from the Marlins July 6, Nolasco went 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He pitched particularly well during a seven-game stretch Aug. 7 to Sept. 9 when he went 6-1 with a 1.17 ERA.

But he struggled at the end, going 0-2 with an 11.77 ERA in his final four appearances. He was skipped in the division series against Atlanta and lost his only postseason start against St. Louis.

He finished the regular season throwing 199 1/3 innings, or a remarkable two-thirds of an inning shy of a $250,000 bonus.

It’s largely been a pitchers’ market again this winter, and in the “city of Minnesota,” Nolasco found his big payday.

“There were a lot of teams that offered three years. We made it clear that the only way this was going to be done fast was if there was a fourth guaranteed year,” agent Matt Sosnick told the Star Tribune. “The Twins understood that, and made this work.”

The Dodgers never seemed seriously interested in bringing Nolasco back after they understood the kind of contract he was seeking. They are still expected to be a major player for Japan right-hander Masahiro Tanaka -- if the new posting agreement is ever worked out – though there’s nothing guaranteed there with the Yankees, Cubs and Angels also reportedly interested.

So Nolasco moves on. He was better than efficient for the Dodgers, just not worth a four-year-plus commitment. They still have mega bucks to spend on Clayton Kershaw, and hopefully some young arms on the way. And over two months before spring training begins.

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