Matt Capps and Kelly Johnson signed one-year deals during the offseason, yet they're both under team control for 2011 as well. How did that happen? It's the beauty of signing a non-tendered player who has fewer than five years of service time. Both players will be arbitration-eligible after the 2010 season.
Capps, closing for the Nationals, was named MLB's Delivery Man of the Month for April after saving ten games with a 0.68 ERA. The Pirates non-tendered Capps after the '09 season, signing Octavio Dotel for the same $3.5MM. The Bucs have a $4.5MM club option on Dotel, so they've got two years of control for their new closer. The difference is that Dotel's option becomes mutual if he's traded. Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette feels that the Pirates could've signed both pitchers, and a comparison of the two misses the point.
Johnson is off to a blazing .301/.389/.677 start in 108 plate appearances, his nine home runs already exceeding last year's total. Much like Capps, the Braves couldn't find a trade suitor and cut Johnson loose for nothing. They're happy with Johnson's replacement Martin Prado, who's off to a .337/.397/.452 start. In hindsight, could the Braves have moved Johnson back to left field and thrown him into the mix? Melky Cabrera and Matt Diaz looked like solid options heading into the season.