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Chris Capuano Rumors
Blue Jays president Paul Beeston appears set to continue on in that capacity, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Of course, as Davidi notes, both Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos could face questions if a postseason berth is not in the offing in 2015. The front office will have at least $20MM to $30MM in free salary, Davidi reasons, which could be bolstered with a spending increase and/or move to shed some payroll obligations. As Davidi rightly notes, Toronto has a very clean balance sheet after this year, which could potentially leave the team with a big hammer to wield in free agency.
Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the AL East:
- The Blue Jays have a number of possible offseason targets on both the trade and free agent front, writes Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Among them is Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who Toronto has “placed multiple calls on,” according to Nicholson-Smith — who, it should be noted, also recently reported that the Jays are on Kendrick’s no-trade list.
- Whether or not the Yankees are big free agent spenders this year remains to be seen, but the club’s financial muscle is flexed in many and disparate ways, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs writes. Over recent years, New York has consistently controlled the market for minor league free agents, bringing bigger and better offers to the table for players like Yangervis Solarte. (In an interesting note to give context to this relatively minimal spending, McDaniel says a team source told him the team could break even financially even if it carried $500MM in total payroll obligations, including luxury tax costs.)
- The early set of rotation targets for the Yankees features names like Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel, and Chris Capuano, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That jibes with another recent report suggesting that New York has no current plans to attack the arms at the top of the market.
- Free agent closer David Robertson, who is currently weighing a qualifying offer from the Yankees, is one of the most fascinating free agents to watch. Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that his sense is the club will be interested in exploring a multi-year deal with Robertson, but may not chase him at the top of the market and would be comfortable allowing him to walk.
- Another QO recipient, Nelson Cruz, told MLB Network Radio (via Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that a return to the Orioles is his preferred outcome. “No doubt it’s my first choice,” said Cruz. “I’d love to be back. I understand the business. I know they’re interested in bringing me back. Hopefully we can work something out.” Cruz was not willing to say he would take a lesser deal to stay in Baltimore, though it is obviously hard to fault him for not copping to that publicly — or, for that matter, for choosing the best contract offer he receives, if that ultimately proves to be the case.
- The Red Sox catcher of the future is Blake Swihart, not Christian Vazquez, opines J.J. Cooper of Baseball America. But the team need not decide now how it will sort out the presence of two highly-regarded young backstops. Instead, the team has the option of adding a veteran presence alongside Vazquez for the coming year while Swihart continues to develop in the minors. Assuming Swihart establishes himself as a big league regular, Boston will have plenty of time to assess whether it makes more sense to keep both players or deal one away.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.