Chris Capuano Rumors
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.
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.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that back at the Winter Meetings, the Angels offered Matt Garza a four-year contract similar to the deal he eventually he inked with the Brewers last week. However, owner Arte Moreno typically wants a quick response to free agent offers, so the Angels didn't leave the offer on the table for long (Twitter links). The Halos have added Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason and inked a returning Mark Mulder to a minor league deal. Here's more from the West divisions.
- Rangers southpaw Joe Ortiz will miss three months of the season after he was hit by a motorcycle in Venezuela, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Ortiz, who was a pedestrian at the time of the frightening accident, has a broken bone in his left foot.
- The Astros announced that top prospect and 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel has had an emergency appendectomy. General manager Jeff Luhnow said in a press release that Appel isn't expected to miss much time: "He will report to camp on time. Once he arrives in Spring Training, we’ll see where he is at health-wise and take it from there. We anticipate that he will either be ready to work out at the start of camp or very close to ready." The Astros also announced that waiver claim Raul Valdes will be out four to six weeks after undergoing knee surgery.
- Former Dodgers starter Chris Capuano figures to be a bargain this offseason, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan writes. ESPN's Buster Olney recently noted (on Twitter) that Capuano is now only asking for a one-year contract. Sullivan suggests that could make him a better buy than someone like Bronson Arroyo, even though Arroyo is perceived as being more durable. In October, the Dodgers paid Capuano a $1MM buyout rather than picking up an $8MM option, suggesting that they did not believe he was worth $7MM to them. The Steamer projection system, however, projects that Capuano will be approximately as valuable as Arroyo, Tim Hudson or Phil Hughes.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Here are a few updates on some free agent situations around baseball:
- The Orioles expect their payroll to top $100MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, though it remains to be seen how much over that threshold the club will go. As things stand, Baltimore's player salaries add up to about $85MM, leaving plenty of room to add.
- Right now, the O's remain in contact with Nelson Cruz, A.J. Burnett, and Fernando Rodney, Rosenthal tweets. The team could also be involved on Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana if they fail to land Burnett, says Rosenthal.
- Free agent starter Bronson Arroyo has asked at least one club for a three-year deal within the last two weeks, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The durable veteran recently said he had yet to receive an offer, though it could be that he is only willing to field longer-term offers at the present time.
- Lefty Chris Capuano has dropped his ask from two years to one, Olney tweets. The 35-year-old should be an attractive option on a single-season commitment.
Draft pick compensation is hanging over the market for several prominent, unsigned free agents -- namely, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, and Kendrys Morales. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at the draft pick situations of some of the clubs that might consider adding one of those names. As we finish a quiet Monday, let's round up some notes on free agent rumors from around the league:
- The Angels do not seem to be operating with much urgency to add a free agent pitcher, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. If the club does add to its rotation with an open-market contract, says DiGiovanna, it is more likely to go after Jason Hammel or Chris Capuano than Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said today that the club does not have any outstanding offers for guaranteed MLB deals, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Tracker shows, Philadelphia has not entered such a pact since inking Roberto Hernandez on December 18.
- After committing a cool half-billion dollars through free agency (if you count Masahiro Tanaka and his release fee), the Yankees appear to be done adding significant salaries for the offseason, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. New York seems to be following through on GM Brian Cashman's statements that the club would not pursue Drew, says Martino, and the team is not currently trying to work out a deal to bring Chase Headley over from the Padres.
Capuano, 35, posted a 4.26 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 46.4 percent ground-ball rate (the best of his career in a full season) over 105 2/3 frames with the Dodgers in 2013. Though his ERA numbers have been up and down over the past four seasons, Sabermetric estimators such as xFIP and SIERA both feel that his skill-set has been that of a 3.60 to 3.97 ERA pitcher in that time.
The big factor with Capuano is health -- something he's struggled with throughout his career. Capuano has twice undergone Tommy John surgery, and while he looked to have overcome his injury woes when he threw 186 and 198 1/3 innings in 2011 and 2012, respectively, he was shelved by multiple injuries in 2013. Capuano saw time on the disabled list with a calf strain and a lat strain this past season, and he also threw just 4 2/3 innings in September as he battled a groin injury. He did throw three solid innings of relief and pick up a win in Game 3 of the NLDS, suggesting that he ultimately overcame that injury as well.
Capuano has posted excellent strikeout-to-walk ratios since returning from his second Tommy John surgery. From 2011-13, there are just 25 pitchers who have thrown 450 innings or more and posted a better K/BB ratio than Capuano's 3.14.
The Red Sox' recent experience shows the need for teams to be flexible at the closer position, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The Sox traded four players last offseason to get Joel Hanrahan (and infielder Brock Holt), but Hanrahan quickly went down with an elbow injury. They then replaced him with Andrew Bailey, and then Koji Uehara, who pitched brilliantly. The Red Sox weren't the only playoff team that changed closers for one reason or another, Crasnick notes -- so did the Cardinals, Pirates, Tigers, Dodgers and Indians. That's worth keeping in mind this offseason, where the market for closers includes Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Brian Wilson, Fernando Rodney and Edward Mujica. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Twins are interested in starting pitchers Gavin Floyd and Chris Capuano, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Floyd's agent, Mike Moye, says his client is progressing well in his return from Tommy John surgery, and Berardino suggests Floyd will be ready to go by the time spring training games begin. The Twins' top target is still Bronson Arroyo, Berardino notes.
- One under-the-radar starting pitcher on the free agent market is Chris Narveson, who pitched this winter for Licey, in the Dominican. A number of scouts have their eyes on Narveson, Crasnick tweets. Narveson missed much of the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to injury, but was a reliable member of the Brewers' rotation in 2010 and 2011.
- Ian Kinsler could block trades to all but ten teams, but he didn't put the Tigers on the list because he liked their chances of winning a championship, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press reports. That's what allowed the Rangers to deal Kinsler to Detroit. "I’m really excited," he says. "Our chance to win the World Series is better than anyone's."
- Reliever Javier Lopez, who recently signed for three years and $13MM, figures he might have been able to get similar money elsewhere, but he chose to stay with the Giants because he's happy in San Francisco, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. "In my case, I felt I wanted to be in a comfortable setting first and in a place that I feel has a chance to win. That’s why I chose San Francisco," he says. "I knew the offers would be around the same dollars, so it was just a matter of happiness."