Chris Capuano Rumors

Yankees Designate Chris Leroux For Assignment

The Yankees announced that they’ve selected the contract of the recently acquired Chris Capuano and designated right-hander Chris Leroux for assignment.

Leroux’s most recent callup with the Yankees lasted just a day, and he didn’t appear with the club during last night’s contest. The Canadian righty allowed five runs in two innings with the Bombers earlier this season and has pitched to a 5.08 ERA with a 23-to-10 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season.

The 30-year-old Leroux has a fair amount of Major League experience (71 2/3 innings), highlighted by 25 innings of 2.88 ERA ball with a 24-to-7 K/BB ratio for the Pirates back in 2011.


Yankees Acquire Chris Capuano From Rockies

The Yankees have acquired lefty Chris Capuano from the Rockies in exchange for cash considerations, the club announced via press release. Capuano joined Colorado on a minor league deal after he was released by the Red Sox.

The 35-year-old starter had not been given a chance to pitch for a Rockies club that is desperate for pitching, despite throwing 19 1/3 strong innings at Triple-A (2.79 ERA, 9.8 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9). He had less success at the MLB level this year as a member of the Boston bullpen, however, as he worked to a 4.55 ERA in 31 2/3 frames while striking out 8.2 and walking 4.3 batters per nine.

Offering the potential to start or relieve, Capuano represents a solid and flexible depth piece for the Yankees. It is not yet clear whether or when he will get a chance at the MLB level for New York.


Rockies To Sign Chris Capuano

The Rockies and left-hander Chris Capuano have agreed on a minor league contract, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  The deal will cost the Rockies only the minimum, as the Red Sox still owe Capuano the approximately $1.18MM remaining on his previous contract after he was released earlier this week.  Capuano is represented by Moye Sports Associates.

Capuano will be stretched out as a starting pitcher at Triple-A, Heyman notes, after pitching exclusively out of the bullpen in Boston.  The veteran southpaw posted a 4.55 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 1.93 K/BB rate in 31 2/3 IP this season, and that ERA was largely inflated by a five-run outing on June 23 in what ended up as his final appearance with the Red Sox.

The signing marks both a return to starting and a return to the NL for Capuano, as he spent the first nine years of his career in the senior circuit before signing with Boston last winter.  Given the Rockies’ need for starting pitching, it’s basically a no-lose signing on their part to see if Capuano can adapt to the thin Colorado air and eventually provide some innings to the Major League rotation.



Red Sox Release Chris Capuano

JULY 1: The Red Sox announced that Capuano has cleared waivers and been released. Boston is on the hook for the remainder of Capuano’s contract (roughly $1.18MM), and he is free to sign with any team.

JUNE 25: The Red Sox have designated left-hander Chris Capuano for assignment, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). The move makes room for right-hander Clay Buchholz to be activated from the 15-day disabled list.

Capuano, 35, signed a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Red Sox this offseason that included up to $2.75MM worth of incentives. The veteran southpaw pitched 31 2/3 innings for the BoSox and posted a 4.55 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 36.2 percent ground-ball rate. Capuano posted a bizarre reverse-platoon split in Boston, holding right-handed hitters to a .217/.337/.348 batting line but struggling against lefties to the tune of a .333/.367/.509 triple-slash.

Capuano started the year well, pitching to a 1.95 ERA through the first two months, but he’s fallen on hard times in June. He’s appeared in five games this month, totaling just four innings while serving up a total of 10 runs on 14 hits and four walks.


Central Links: Diaz, Scherzer, Capuano, Indians, Coke

New Cardinals prospect Aledmys Diaz participated in team drills with the club on Monday but will return to Mexico next week to receive a work visa that will allow him to compete in Spring Training games, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. GM John Mozeliak said the club will have Diaz focus on shortstop rather than trying to carve out a utility role. However, asked about the overlap between Diaz's contract and that of fellow offseason signee Jhonny Peralta, Mozeliak simply said, "Jhonny Peralta is our shortstop. We think he's really good."

Here's more from baseball's Central divisions…

  • The Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel writes that the Cardinals were Missouri native Max Scherzer's dream team growing up. Scherzer told Hummel he always envisioned playing for the Cards as a kid, and he had the chance to do so when St. Louis drafted him in the 43rd round out of high school. However, Scherzer honored his commitment to Mizzou and now doesn't think about his old Cardinals aspirations: "The thing is that now I’ve gotten to the big leagues and I’m in this position, it’s really hard to still dream about that when you’ve got this clubhouse and you look around and see Miguel Cabrera. You see the talent here. This clubhouse can win and it’s so much fun. This is my dream now, playing with the Tigers."
  • Left-hander Chris Capuano told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the Twins showed some early interest in him, but that interest seemed to dry up after the team re-signed Mike Pelfrey in December (Twitter link).
  • Indians manager Terry Francona spoke with reporters, including Zack Meisel of the Northeat Ohio Media Group, and said that he would be lying if he knew what the team's third base plans were this coming season. Reports have pegged Carlos Santana as uncomfortable at the position to date. Francona also said he thinks David Murphy will be an excellent addition to the team, adding that Cleveland was able to get him due to a down year in 2013: "If he would've had his normal year, he probably wouldn't have been as available."
  • Phil Coke has struggled this spring, and this could be a big week for him, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. The Tigers can cut ties with Coke this week and only owe him $316K of the $1.9MM the two sides agreed to in arbitration. However, Beck expects Coke to hang around at least until the end of Spring Training; Detroit would only owe him $475K were they to cut him at that point. Detroit made a similar move with Brennan Boesch last spring, and Casey Crosby's return from injury gives the team another left-handed option out of the bullpen. MLive.com's Chris Iott also expects Coke to hang around beyond Wednesday's deadline.

Red Sox Sign Chris Capuano

SATURDAY 12:36pm: Capuano can earn as much as $500K in roster bonuses, $1.25MM for starts (with bonuses beginning at 12 starts) and $1MM for innings pitched (with bonuses beginning at 70 IP), CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam tweets.

10:31am: Capuano has passed his physical, so his deal is now complete, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Ryan Dempster has officially been placed on the disabled list to clear space on the Red Sox’ roster, the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton tweets.

FRIDAY: WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports that Capuano’s incentives are tied to games started. He adds that the Sox are expected to clear room on the 40-man roster by officially placing Dempster on the restricted list (Twitter links).

THURSDAY: The Red Sox have agreed to a contract with free agent pitcher Chris Capuano, reports Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican (hat tip to his colleague, Jason Mastrodonato). Capuano receives a $2.25MM guarantee, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). He can earn bonuses that would increase the value to as much as $5MM.

The 35-year-old Capuano, who is preresented by Moye Sports Associates, must pass a physical to complete deal. If he does, it appears that he will not be in line for a regular rotation spot, but should be first up in case another arm is needed in that role. If he does indeed start the year off working as the long man in the pen, it would mark just the second time in his nine-year career that Capuano has not featured primarily as a starter. (In 2010 with the Brewers, he started nine games and made 15 relief appearances.)

Over his career, Capuano has proven a sturdy, if unspectacular, big league arm. Though slowed by injuries last year, he logged 198 1/3 innings of 3.72 ERA ball for the Dodgers in 2012. Last year, in twenty starts and four appearances from the pen, Capuano threw 105 2/3 innings and ended up with a 4.26 ERA. Though he logged just 6.9 K/9 last year, the lowest level since his rookie year, Capuano also held down the free passes with a 2.0 BB/9 mark. The resulting 3.38 K:BB ratio, along with a 46.4% ground-ball rate, left him looking good in the eyes of advanced stats like FIP (3.55), xFIP (3.67), and SIERA (3.87).

Though he carries the baggage of two Tommy John procedures and a series of bumps and bruises last season, Capuano looks to come at a solid rate. His new deal lands in much the same realm as fellow southpaw Paul Maholm, who got a slightly lower base salary ($1.5MM) but greater overall incentive package (he would max out at $6.5MM) with the Dodgers. Another lefty, Bruce Chen, got $4.25MM from the Royals. The younger and historically healthier Jason Vargas landed a much bigger deal, getting $32MM over four years from Kansas City.

From Boston’s perspective, it has essentially swapped out Dempster (and the $13.25MM he was owed) for Capuano and his much cheaper price tag. While retaining its depth entering the season, then, the club should have additional space to take on salary if mid-season additions become desirable. 


Red Sox Likely To Sign Chris Capuano

The Red Sox are likely to sign free agent hurler Chris Capuano, with a deal potentially announced later today or tomorrow, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. GM Ben Cherington said today that the team "may be close to bringing another pitcher to camp," Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports on Twitter.

Reports of Boston's interest in the 35-year-old southpaw arose on Tuesday, after it was announced that Ryan Dempster would sit out the season. Capuano struggled with injuries late last year, and ultimately ended up finishing his tenure with the Dodgers spending time throwing from the pen. That probably suits the Sox just fine, however, as the team is said to be interested in adding a swingman who can contribute innings in either capacity.

Capuano has worked from the rotation over much of his career, making 209 starts out of 238 total appearances. Across the last two years with Los Angeles, he logged a cumulative 3.91 ERA in 304 innings, with 7.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9.


Mariners, Red Sox In Talks With Chris Capuano

6:20pm: The Red Sox are also talking with Capuano, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boston recently learned that rotation option Ryan Dempster would take the year off, reducing the team's depth but also relieving it of the obligation to pay him.

Of course, the Red Sox are likely not in a position to promise Capuano a regular turn in the rotation. As Rosenthal tweets, the team is interested in a "swing type" pitcher that is capable of throwing both as a starter and in relief.

9:19am: MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets that the Marlins and White Sox have also been in touch with Capuano this winter.

7:40am: The Mariners are showing "decent interest" in southpaw Chris Capuano, and talks between the two sides are ongoing, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman writes that Capuano has been seeking a two-year deal, though it's not clear if that is still his goal or if his price has come down.

Capuano, 35, battled calf and lat injuries in 2013, and he also was relegated to the bullpen for a portion of the season as a result of the Dodgers' starting pitching depth. The result was a total of just 105 2/3 innings — 92 2/3 fewer than he threw in 2012. In his two years with L.A., Capuano posted a 3.91 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 304 innings of work. His 46.4 percent ground-ball rate in 2013 was his best mark since 2003 when he threw just 33 innings, though it wasn't reflected in his ERA due to struggles in stranding baserunners (68.9 percent) and an abnormally high .334 BABIP.

Heyman writes that the Mariners also had discussions with Ubaldo Jimenez prior to his four-year, $50MM deal with the Orioles, and they've been in talks with Ervin Santana as well. However, signing Capuano to augment their rotation instead of Santana would leave additional funds to add another bat, such as Kendrys Morales or Nelson Cruz.


Paul Maholm And The Starting Pitching Market

The free-agent market for starting pitching has been slow to develop this offseason, but now that Masahiro Tanaka has chosen a team, signings are trickling in. Two recent NL West contracts demonstrate how uncertain that market can be. The Diamondbacks agreed to terms with Bronson Arroyo on a two-year, $23.5MM deal that includes an option for 2016, and the Dodgers signed Paul Maholm for one year and $1.5MM guaranteed, with the chance to make up to $5MM more in incentives.

There are clear differences between the two pitchers — Arroyo is a righty and Maholm is a lefty, and Arroyo has been the more durable of the two. That's a trend that might not persist, given that Arroyo is five years older than Maholm. But Maholm did miss a start in September due to elbow soreness (although an MRI revealed no structural trouble) and he pitched 49 fewer innings than Arroyo last year.

Arroyo and Maholm aren't that different, however. They're both low-upside, pitch-to-contact types who give their teams decent chances of winning as mid-rotation or back-of-the-rotation starters. And statistically, they're reasonably similar.

Arroyo

Year K/9 BB/9 fWAR
2011 4.9 2.0 -1.5
2012 5.8 1.6 2.4
2013 5.5 1.5 0.8

Maholm

Year K/9 BB/9 fWAR
2011 5.4 2.8 1.7
2012 6.8 2.5 2.2
2013 6.2 2.8 0.7

One could actually make the case that, over the past three seasons, Maholm has been better than Arroyo. As Fangraphs' David Cameron noted yesterday (via Twitter), Maholm appears to be quite a bargain in comparison. (I made a similar observation at my own blog.)

Others have noted the huge disparity between Maholm's contract and that of Jason Vargas, who received four years and $32MM from the Royals earlier this winter. Like Maholm, Vargas is a 31-year-old, pitch-to-contact lefty. Vargas has produced 4.5 WAR over the last three seasons, compared to 4.6 for Maholm.

The common thread here may be the perception that Arroyo and Vargas are more likely to give their new teams 200 innings. (Vargas only pitched 150 last season after missing time due to a blood clot, but he threw at least 201 in both 2011 and 2012.) If that's the case, however, the market seems to be overreacting. In theory, a team could easily get two Maholm-type fragile pitchers and hope for them to combine for 250 or so decent innings, rather than paying Arroyo or Vargas many times more. A team would have to clear an extra spot on its roster that way, but that seems like a small matter compared to the savings in dollars.

In fact, in a way, this seems to be what the Dodgers are doing — they'll have Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren for the first four spots, and then Maholm, Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley will soak up the remaining innings. (Beckett and Billingsley are both returning from injury.) If Arroyo posts 200 innings, that's surely useful, but given that his innings aren't the highest quality, a team should be able to compensate for reduced back-of-the-rotation certainty with greater depth.

Among Arroyo, Vargas and Maholm, Maholm is probably the outlier. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes' projection for Arroyo's contract was almost exactly on the money, while Maholm's contract, at least the guaranteed portion, falls well short of Dierkes' projected one year and $7MM. Perhaps teams are simply extremely concerned about Maholm's elbow. (In fact, that seems at least somewhat likely, given Maholm's apparent openness to pitching in relief. One would think a pitcher of his caliber would be able to find a sure starting job somewhere.)

If not, though, Maholm's deal doesn't bode well for a pitcher like lefty free agent Chris Capuano. Capuano's value has been similar to Vargas or Maholm the past three seasons (with 4.8 total fWAR), but he only pitched 105 2/3 innings last year due to a series of injuries, and he has two Tommy John surgeries in his past. Given Capuano's tendency to pitch reasonably strong innings when healthy, though, he could give his next team great value. Maholm's contract could be a bargain for the Dodgers, and the team that picks up Capuano could be in line for a bargain as well.


Orioles Talking With Saunders, Capuano

The Orioles are in discussions with free agent left-handers Joe Saunders and Chris Capuano, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports

Orioles Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette has said on several occasions that the O's are on the hunt for a veteran starter this offseason, and both Saunders and Capuano would fit that bill. However, neither distinguished themselves in 2013, as Saunders posted a 5.26 ERA in 183 innings for the Mariners, and Capuano managed just 105 2/3 frames for the Dodgers after struggling with various injuries. He eventually received a $1MM buyout. With both Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez still on the market, it's safe to say a deal for Saunders or Capuano wouldn't be the impact move many O's fans have waited for this offseason.

The Orioles were known to be in pursuit of A.J. Burnett, who is a Maryland resident. However, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reported yesterday that the chances of a deal "don't look good," as it's believed Burnett would prefer to remain in the National League.