For one season each of 40somethings R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, Coppy shelled out $20 mil. Plus another $12 million for Jaime Garcia, acquired from the Cardinals.
That’s a whole lot of nothing for $32 mil — about a quarter of the Braves’ payroll.
For three years and $27 mil, the Pirates re-signed 30-year-old Ivan Nova, who has one more walk (3) than CG in 2017. Nova has a 2.23 ERA and 0.952 WHIP.
The Braves say they pursued short-term deals because they didn’t want to block any of their young pitchers. But it’s foolish to think all, or even half of them, will succeed in the majors, and how many will be ready to join the rotation in 2018? An affordable innings-eater like Nova, who’s been much more than that since coming to the National League, would seem a natural fit.
There were other, more affordable options with seemingly more upside than two greybeards clearly past their prime. The White Sox inked Derek Holland for $6 million. Holland has a 2.02 ERA after six starts with a 1.037 WHIP. Charlie Morton is throwing harder than ever and is averaging better than a strikeout per inning. Houston signed the ex-Brave for two years and $14 mil.
Another ex-Brave, Trevor Cahill, found new life pitching for the Cubs in 2016, striking out 66 in 65 IP with a 2.74 ERA. He’s struck out 44 in 35 IP so far this year and has a 3.06 ERA after six starts. The Padres signed him for $1.75 million.
Hindsight, you say. Sure, it’s not like teams were flocking to sign Nova, Holland, Morton or Cahill. They weren’t lining up for Colon, Dickey or Garcia, either. And the Braves are paying each of them more money in 2017 than any of the others are receiving because Coppy misread the market, signing them soon after they became eligible and trading for Garcia on Dec. 1.