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Miami Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco is still scheduled to start Wednesday night in Atlanta. But it is increasingly possible that Nolasco could be traded before he can make it to the mound.
According to two executives who spoke with the Marlins on Tuesday, three teams remain in heavy pursuit of Nolasco.
Those executives told ESPN.com the indications that they have gotten are that those three teams are the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies. The Marlins now appear to be narrowing their focus in an attempt to get a deal done quickly.
Miami continues to ask for multiple prospects in exchange for the 30-year-old Nolasco. The approximately $5.7 million left on the right-hander's contract also is an issue in the discussions, because the eventual price in players will depend on how much of that money Nolasco's new team is willing to pick up.
Nolasco has been heavily pursued by a half-dozen clubs over the last two weeks, as the Marlins have ramped up their efforts to deal him in order to open a rotation spot for 23-year-old right-hander Henderson Alvarez.
Miami obtained Alvarez, who has not pitched in the big leagues this season because of shoulder trouble, from the Blue Jays last winter in the 12-player deal that sent Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others to Toronto. Alvarez just completed a minor-league rehab assignment last Friday and must be activated by the Marlins this week.
Although Nolasco is 4-8, with a 3.93 ERA, this season, he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 17 starts. The Marlins have scored one run or none while he was in the game in nine of those 17 starts, giving Nolasco the second-worst run support among all qualifying starters in the National League.
Nolasco's FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), a stat which factors out defensive effects to measure just what a pitcher can control, is a respectable 3.54. That ranks 23rd in the National League, ahead of several starters (Jeff Locke, Matt Cain, Scott Feldman) who would seem, on the surface, to be having a better year.
Nolasco can be a free agent at the end of this season. If a team trades for him and he then signs elsewhere next winter, the club dealing for him can't receive compensation for losing him, under the terms of baseball's most recent labor deal.