On Friday, the team officially announced the signing of Ricky Nolasco to a three-year extension. Nolasco reached agreement this past Sunday, and it became official after the 28-year-old right-hander completed his physical, which was on Thursday.
"I can't even explain how much of a difference it'll be for me," Nolasco said in a conference call with reporters, general manager Michael Hill and team owner Jeffrey Loria. "Just to go out there and not have to worry about the whole arbitration process or where I'm going to be, if I'm going to be traded or not. I have confidence I'm going to be here for three years."
Per team policy, the Marlins do not reveal terms of the contract. But MLB.com has learned the three-year package is worth $26.5 million, and it includes base salaries of $6 million in 2011, $9 million for '12 and $11.5 million for '13. Based on innings, Nolasco can also earn bonuses of up to $500,000 for each season, or another $1.5 million total.
"I usually don't participate in these conference calls, but I did want to personally congratulate Ricky on his signing with us," Loria said. "I want everyone to know he's a special young man and how happy we are that this is a nice Christmas present for not only us, but also for the fans in Florida."
Projected as the Marlins' No. 2 starter behind Josh Johnson, Nolasco was 14-9 with a 4.51 ERA in 26 starts in '10. He struck out 147 and walked just 33. With a 54-39 career record, the right-hander is second in club history in wins. Dontrelle Willis is the franchise leader with 68.
Although a recent ESPN.com poll did not name the Marlins' rotation among the best in baseball, their Nos. 1 through 5 are solidified with Johnson, Nolasco, Javier Vazquez, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad.
"I'm not sure how we couldn't be mentioned in that, but I think with JJ at the top of the rotation, I'd put JJ up against anybody in baseball," said Nolasco, who's spending Christmas with his family at home in California. "We got four other guys who can go out there every day and give us a chance to win."
The contract essentially locks up Nolasco for what would have been two more seasons remaining in arbitration, along with the first season he would have been eligible for free agency.
Nolasco paced Florida in wins in 2010, despite missing the final month due to a meniscus tear in his right knee. It required surgery, but he is expected to be at full strength when Spring Training begins.
"It feels pretty much back to normal," Nolasco said. "When I get back into Spring Training I should have no setbacks, should be 100 percent. The throwing's been going good, no problems at all."
Obtained from the Cubs as part of the Juan Pierre trade in December 2005, Nolasco has had a history of winning. As a Minor Leaguer, he had a career record of 43-22. Nolasco has three straight seasons in which he has won at least 13 games. Since '08, the right-hander ranks seventh in the National League with 42 wins.
Along with ranking second in club history in victories, Nolasco is third in strikeouts (638), fifth in innings (716 1/3) and tied for fifth in starts (115). He owns the club record for wins by a right-hander and has issued just 2.12 walks per nine innings, the lowest rate by a Marlin.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.