Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Was Capps worth losing another prospect?

Word came out of the Winter Meetings on Monday night that the Twins had agreed to terms with free agent relief pitcher Matt Capps. From the sounds of most of the reports, it is a one-year deal for $4.5 million with a $6 million option for a second year with a $250,000 buyout. The asking price had to be relatively cheap for the Twins to be interested in keeping the player who has been much maligned by the fans. Different members of the organization have shown a lot of love for Mr. Capps in recent interviews and it seemed like the organization was bent on bringing him back into the fold.

After his performance in 2011, the thought of having Capps be the ninth inning man for the team is enough to make any fan cringe. One thing in favor of Capps has been the reports that he was pitching through a forearm injury and this injury impacted his ability to use his slider. The coaching staff seemed impress that he would take the mound every day without complaint. But for fans of the team, there was plenty to complain about for his performance on the field when he did take the ball. No matter if he was injured or not...

There were various changes to the rules about free agents in the new collective bargaining agreement that seemed to work in the Twins favor when it came to Capps. The team was unlikely to offer him arbitration after his abysmal season but with the new CBA he was downgraded from a Type A free agent to a modified Type B. This allowed the Twins to still receive a compensation draft pick if he were to sign with another team. The best part was the Twins didn't even have to offer him arbitration under the new rules. A free draft pick was theirs for the taking but the team decided otherwise.

It is hard to know what the team would do with a top 50 pick in next year's draft but the team has now given up Wilson Ramos, a top catching prospect, and a high draft pick to keep Capps. When he joined the Twins in 2010, he put up very decent numbers while completing 16 saves for the team. The scary drop in his strikeout rate from 7.3 per nine in 2010 to 4.7 per nine in 2011 is hard to swallow. It still seems that the Twins have given up a lot to keep a player who has produced 1.9 WAR in his season and a half with the club.

The closer market has been very lucrative this season for players looking to sign on the dotted line. Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell have already hit the free agent jackpot with the contracts they were offered for multiple seasons. So it makes it nice to know the Twins did not offer lots of money in a multi-year contract to a relief pitcher. A one-year contract in baseball is an easy deal to get out of for an organization. If the coming year does not go as planned, the team can part ways with the player and move in a new direction.

Fans at Target Field were not kind to Capps in 2011 and at the first sign of trouble in 2012, the boo birds are most certainly going to be released. It is going to be a tough situation for him to succeed in but it is hard to know how many save situations the Twins will have next year. The team only won 63 games in 2011 and it is yet to be determined how much of a contender they will be next season. If the team is not winning games, there won't be many pressure situations to throw Capps into.

Overall, I think there were other replacement level players the Twins could have signed instead of giving up a draft pick to bring back Capps. He could have a great 2012 season and maybe his option will be an easy decision for the Twins to pick-up for 2013.

But for right now, the deal makes me shake my head.

1 comment:

TT said...

I think its important to remember the Twins did not "give up a prospect". They gave up a draft pick who would have cost several hundred thousand dollars just for his signing bonus. That doesn't count the cost of his future development. I think Terry Ryan has been pretty clear that draft choices aren't much of a factor in his thinking, he would "rather have the player."

To put that in perspective, the Twins actually gave up a second prospect, Joe Testa, in addition to Wilson Ramos. He seems to have been forgotten. Since they also won a division championship in 2010, giving up a backup catcher and pitching prospect turned out to be a pretty good investment so far. If Wilson Ramos turns into an allstar and Joe Testa into a serviceable pitcher, maybe not so much. But this deal has nothing to do with that trade.