Trade Candidate: Matt Capps

The Twins are off to a 17-32 start, which gives them a projected 0.0% chance of claiming a postseason berth this year, according to Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds report. Expect general manager Terry Ryan to field his share of calls this summer, when buyers survey the rosters of second division teams for late-season depth.

Matt Capps - Twins (PW)

Matt Capps figures to draw interest, as contending teams are always looking for relief help. Yet he isn’t your typical closer. Just three MLB relievers with as many innings as Capps (19) have a lower strikeout rate so far this year: Alex Burnett, Rafael Dolis and Jon Rauch. Capps strikes out just 4.7 batters per nine innings and doesn’t induce a noteworthy number of ground balls or swings and misses. It’ll be enough to make some general managers wonder how long he can keep his ERA below 4.00.

But the Twins can point to Capps’ many positives in summer trade talks. The 28-year-old limits walks (1.4 BB/9) and has averaged 68 appearances per year since his first full season in 2006. He throws hard — his average fastball checks in at 92.5 mph — and owns a relatively low ERA (3.79) to go along with lots of saves (10 this year, 124 in the Major Leagues). He’s earning $4.5MM in 2012, which makes him affordable for most buyers. 

Capps was a ranked free agent last offseason, meaning the Twins had a chance at obtaining draft pick compensation for losing the right-hander. But under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, teams must be prepared to offer players a salary in the $12-13MM range if they expect compensatory picks. There’s no way Capps is worth that kind of money, and his $6MM club option ($250K buyout) is hardly team friendly either. In essence, the Twins must make a trade if they intend to obtain an asset for the future.

When the Twins acquired Capps midway through the 2010 season they gave up a promising young catching prospect who has since become an MLB regular: Wilson Ramos. It’d be a coup for Ryan if he can convert Capps into an equally promising MLB-ready prospect. But Capps’ trade value isn’t as high as it was two summers ago, when he induced more strikeouts and had a year of team control remaining. This time the Twins seem more likely to obtain secondary prospects if they trade the closer.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

15 Responses to Trade Candidate: Matt Capps Leave a Reply

  1. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Think Balfour will hold more appeal as a trade candidate. Ryan had better be looking to move Willingham if he is looking to get anything back from the Twins current roster, maybe Morneau if he can keep him on the field and find someone willing to pay the 14m salary for 2013 and rest of the 14m of his 2012.

    • melonis_rex 3 years ago

      Teams like to overpay for “proven closers” though, and Balfour’s already gotten the hook from the closer role. (although Fuentes really wanted to give that job back yesterday). 

      The deadline won’t pass without a lopsided deal for a guy with lots of saves, and several closers have lost their jobs recently.

      So while Capps shouldn’t net back any huge return, I could see him netting something interesting. And closers on bad teams are really not needed.

      • johnsilver 3 years ago

         I get your point on that, but that would just translate to Fuentes having more value than Balfour and can’t see that either, even if Oakland paid some of his remaining 5m+ salary.

        Capps is really a middle reliever on a team anyway, or one would think of him in that regard. Maybe someone really desperate could force themselves to use him as a closer.. He’s about as intimidating as a VERY late career Hoffman IMO.

        As for getting back decent prospects (sorry for getting away from original point) think Twins should be looking to move Willingham as the 1 person they should be able to get back the best pieces without the possibility of paying a dime to anyone on payroll. Maybe Morneau.. Depends on who they offer him to, but think Willingham, while he is still healthy offers them the best option, as anyone who has followed him realizes he is an injury waiting to happen and not a dice there.

        • melonis_rex 3 years ago

          balfour’s a far better pitcher than fuentes, and he’s got a team option for 2013, so not really. the a’s also have more leverage with the guy, since they don’t HAVE to trade him now; they can trade him either this offseason or next year’s deadline if so be (Or keep him). 

          closers are overvalued, but a good healthy set up guy still has more value than a not-good closer.

      •  “And closers on bad teams are really not needed.” Indeed…indeed. Whatever GM Ryan is able to ‘best’ get for Crapps will undoubtedly be significantly better than having him lingering around the Minnesota bullpen for the 2012 season…

  2. $1742854 3 years ago

    Man, that Capps-Ramos trade still really ticks me off. 

  3. If Crapps can be traded for ANYTHING then Ryan needs to dump him…he’s entirely worthless to the Twins’ current team – unless they were in need of a boat anchor!

  4. Maybe if you mix in Justin Morneau with Matt Capps, then maybe Matt Capps becomes a trade candidate. Also, I wouldn’t trade for Pavano staight up.
    Same for Huston Street and Brian Fuentes. You have to match them up with something in order to get a decent prospect from another team.

    It’s sort of like a Major Motion Picture Studio. If you were a video store and you wanted a 1000 copies of a movie that won an Academy Award. You were also stuck with a 1000 copies of such movies like “The Three Little Bears hit the Beach” for the 1st time.

  5. Your reasoning of ‘pairing’ a few of the Twins’ trade candidates together makes perfect sense Lefty. However, it’d net a better return if the Twins were to package deal Morneau w/Span (also expendable and a VERY tempting trade commodity) to some team. Pairing Crapps & Pavano together in a trade to a contender would land a solid pitching prospect I would think.

  6. nick1538 3 years ago

    I would like to think that the Twins can keep a few players that are able to help out in the next few years.  Willingham and Span are signed through 2014 (Span has an option for 2015), and they have team friendly contracts (no more than 7 million a season).  This does increase their value, but who will replace their production?  Until some of the prospects are ready, the outfield could get pretty ugly without these two.  They will still have value in trade next year or 2014.  

    Morneau is another guy with the same situation, although his contract is larger (14 million this year and next year).  Health is the big question mark, but the concussion doesn’t seem to be an issue this year and he has been playing the field recently.  If he is hitting .280 with 15-20 HRs at the deadline, you would think he could get some nice prospects.  At the same time, why wouldn’t you want to keep that player around for next year and try and fix the rotation in the offseason?  

    The no-brainers for trades are Pavano and Capps.  If there is trade value for a guy like Jared Burton, Jamie Carroll or Ryan Doumit, take the prospects.

  7. I can appreciate your assigning team value over trade value for Span but he would net a very good return. I also agree that Burton, Carroll & Doumit are viable considerations for trades. But I have to disagree with your proposal that they ‘fix’ the rotation in the offseason. Other than Diamond & Walters – who’ve been solid since joining the rotation – there are no ‘aces in the deck’ of the Twins’ minor leagues. And they aren’t going to sign an ace either – they simply can’t compete financially for an aces’ services. Best case scenario: build the rotation with solid pitching types like Diamond & Walters…meaning the Twins should trade in order to stock the Trip-A club. Hendricks will be ready soon…and De Vries looked significantly better in last night’s game against Oakland…’fixing’ the rotation will be done in that way for the Twins. During the offseason GM Ryan might find it easier (and cheaper) to construct a ‘shutdown’ bullpen comprised of free agent relievers and Twins’ future starters.

    • nick1538 3 years ago

      There is the possibility of a trade for an “ace type” pitcher.  I am not saying that simply adding that one pitcher makes the Twins contenders, but it would push them back to being competitive.  

      I do agree that we can’t compete for those guys in Free Agency.  The exception might be Zack Greinke, if the whole “he is uncomfortable in a big market” thing is true.  Would it be out of the realm of possibility to land Greinke with a 5 year $100 million contract?  Maybe, maybe not…
      The Twins could also consider a trade for James Shields, in the same way that the Angels acquired Dan Haren in 2010.  Everyone knows that the Rays will trade away pitching when given the chance.  If the Twins were able to acquire one or both of those players and retain Morneau, Span and Willingham 2013 would look a little brighter.  Of course, this might all be a pipe dream…

    • nick1538 3 years ago

      For some reason, I could see Gardy making Burton the closer when Capps is traded.  Most would assume Perkins gets the 9th, but I just have a feeling.  Although I think he is Arbitration eligible next year, so they might not want to risk the pay increase.  

  8. kimofromkauai 3 years ago

    Thanks for the link to Baseball Prospectus playoff odds.  I would suggest a reader review all the posted comments for this product before relying too heavily on it.

  9. Blue387 3 years ago

    Matt Capps is terrible.

Leave a Reply