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White Sox acquire Ivan Nova from Pirates

The White Sox will hope that they can help Nova rediscover his former level of effectiveness.

Milwaukee Brewers v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The White Sox have acquired right-handed starting pitcher Ivan Nova from the White Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Yordi Rosario and international slot money, as The Athletic’s Robert Murray and Ken Rosenthal first reported on Tuesday and the team officially announced shortly after:

Nova, who will be 32 next season, has one season remaining (at $9.167 million) on a three-year, $26 million deal. The right-hander has had an extremely up-and-down career; he had two very effective seasons with the Yankees in 2011 and 2013, and after struggling in 2014-15 and the first half of 2016, he had arguably the best success of his career with the Pirates after being dealt at the deadline in ‘16, posting a 3.06 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP over 11 starts. That small sample size earned Nova a new deal in Pittsburgh, but he’s been unable to replicate that success over the last two seasons. He’s been a solid fifth starter/innings-eater type, posting a 4.14 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP over 31 starts in 2017, then a 4.19 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in 2018, issuing very few walks while failing to come anywhere near a strikeout per inning in both seasons. There’s a good argument to be made that his production is worth the salary he’s earning, but obviously the old-fashioned mediocre fifth starter types are being phased out of today’s game to a degree.

Carlos Rodon and Reynaldo Lopez were the only White Sox pitchers in 2018 who really proved that they earned rotation spots going forward, so Nova shouldn’t have much trouble earning a place within the middle-to-back of Chicago’s starting group. If the White Sox don’t add any other starters this winter, Lucas Giolito and Dylan Covey — both of whom struggled immensely in 2018 — seem likely to occupy the other two spots.

The 19-year-old Rosario arrived stateside from the Dominican Republic late in July and had solid success with the rookie-level AZL White Sox, posting a 3.42 ERA and 1.37 WHIP with 31 strikeouts and eight walks over 26.1 innings (six appearances, four starts). Those numbers were encouraging following a dominant two months in the Dominican Summer League, where he posted a 1.82 ERA and 0.91 WHIP with 39 strikeouts and four walks in 29.2 innings (eight appearances, seven starts), albeit against suspect competition.