Nolasco signing necessary for the Twins

Despite a rough end to 2013, Ricky Nolasco has proved to be reliable and durable. Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Ricky Nolasco's four-year deal with the Twins almost seems cheap given its average annual value of just over $12 million, with a club option that could vest and become a player option that could make the contract a five-year, $61 million deal in the end. For the Twins, the timing seems odd, as they're not going to contend in 2014 and probably not in 2015 as they wait for their bevy of high-end hitting prospects to reach and adjust to the majors, but given the lack of starting pitching prospects on their full-season affiliates, signing a player such as Nolasco actually may have been necessary.

Nolasco seemed to have turned a corner right after the Marlins dumped his salary on the Dodgers in July for three fringe relief prospects, posting a 2.07 ERA across 74 innings before three awful starts ended his year and scared the Dodgers out of using him in their Division Series rotation. When he was on, he was working heavily off his fastball, adding and subtracting from it similar to the way his teammate Zack Greinke did, and finishing hitters off with his slider, leaving the curve and changeup as occasional show-me weapons. When he shies away from establishing the fastball, he's far less effective, and often ends up in that situation because his fastball doesn't have great life and is prone to hard contact. It's an interesting signing for Minnesota, a team that has long preached pitching to contact, because Nolasco throws a lot of strikes but doesn't exactly want to encourage hitters to square up his fastball.