Matt Capps Rumors

Rosenthal On Upton, Rangers, Twins, Tigers

The Diamondbacks are willing to trade Justin Upton even if they’re in contention, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Arizona GM Kevin Towers won’t make a deal unless he’s “dazzled”, Rosenthal reports. Here are Rosenthal’s latest rumors, starting with Upton:

  • The Diamondbacks could pursue Major Leaguers instead of prospects for Upton if they remain in contention for a postseason berth. Upton raises some questions with his effort level and body language, according to Rosenthal, but the outfielder appears to have drawn “huge” interest from teams such as the Pirates nonetheless. 
  • The Rangers prefer Cole Hamels to Zack Greinke, though they continue scouting Greinke.
  • Francisco Liriano has a 2.74 ERA in eight starts since returning to the Twins’ rotation, but clubs are “wary” of trading for the left-hander, Rosenthal reports. It’s doubtful that teams would part with significant prospects for Liriano, who’s thought of as a bullpen option by some teams. Matt Capps will also be available once he returns from the disabled list, according to Rosenthal.
  • The Tigers are prioritizing offense over starting pitching, according to an executive that has spoken to the team. The Tigers need second base help and could also explore trades for corner outfielders, starting pitchers and relievers.

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.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Morneau, Ruiz, Upton, Hamilton

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count video up, so let's recap…

  • Don't be surprised if the Twins consider trading Justin Morneau. The first baseman is owed $14MM both this season and next, and Minnesota likely needs the position for Joe Mauer long-term. Denard Span, Matt Capps, and Carl Pavano could also be on the block, but Morneau offers hard-to-find power. He has a no-trade clause but the extent is unknown.
  • The Phillies hold a $5MM option for 2013 on catcher Carlos Ruiz and an extension is warranted, but at 33 years old, Chooch is three years older than Yadier Molina and four years older than Miguel Montero. They aren't contract comparables.
  • This year's crop of free agent center fielders stand to benefit from Adam Jones' new six-year, $88.5MM extension, but age will again be a factor. B.J. Upton will be 28 next season and is two years younger than Michael Bourn and four years younger than Shane Victorino. All three will hit the open market after the season.
  • Josh Hamilton is unlikely to sign a contract extension with the Rangers, and the lack of comparable players (both on and off the field) make him even more likely to hit the open market. It's possible the only way to determine his actual value is to let other teams bid for his services as a free agent.


Closer Options For 2013

Last offseason's Hot Stove was notable for the hefty contracts signed by the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but the abundance of closers in free agency was an interesting secondary arc. A few stoppers signed for big bucks, and if there were any takeaway, it was that many teams have not necessarily adopted a frugal philosophy with respect to bullpen spending.

The upcoming offseason's class of free-agent closers is pretty interesting, too, and several of its potential members have options for 2013. Here's a list of those pitchers and a very preliminary look at whether their options figure to be picked up:

  • Matt Capps (2013 age: 29), $6MM club option with a $250K buyout: Capps' signing this offseason was maligned after he pitched poorly in 2011, but the Twins' bullpen was pretty barren, so it may have been a devil-you-know situation. He's pitching roughly the same so far this year, but the guess here is that if they were willing to bring him back after last year, they'll be willing to do so again. He could be a trade candidate, but I'm not sure there will be takers.
  • Ryan Madson (32), $11MM mutual option with a $2.5MM buyout: The Reds will be on the hook for at least $2.5MM, so will they want to gamble an extra $8.5MM on a guy coming off Tommy John surgery? With Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall in the back of the Reds' bullpen, I think they'll pass.
  • J.J. Putz (36), $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout: Putz is getting on in years, and his health is always a concern (including a DL stint during his brilliant 2011), but the right-hander is really good when he's on the mound. If he can get through this year relatively unscathed in terms of injury, which is no sure thing, I think the Diamondbacks will roll the dice, seeing as the penalty for snake eyes is relatively low.
  • Joakim Soria (29), $8MM club option with a $750K buyout: Similar to the Reds and Madson, the Royals will have a tough decision to make with Soria coming off (a second) Tommy John surgery. They've been very reluctant to part with him via trade previously, so I'm thinking they'll pick up the option just to save face and see what he can yield — either in terms of on-field contributions or perhaps a trade later in the season if he comes back healthy.
  • Huston Street (29), $9MM mutual option with a $500K buyout if club declines: The Padres will likely look to trade Street before this year's deadline, so his recent injury development must make them a little nervous. He has plenty of time to get healthy before the deadline, though, and I'd expect the Friars to move hard to flip him. If they can't, they could always pick up the option and then look to trade him again next summer.
  • Grant Balfour (35), $4.5MM club option with a $350K buyout: The A's will be shopping Balfour hard before the deadline, as he'll draw plenty of interest, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently noted. Wherever he is, his option will look pretty attractive, with his durability and effectiveness probably trumping any concerns over his age.
  • Rafael Soriano (33), $14MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout: Soriano is very likely to exercise this option, meaning the Yankees will almost certainly be paying this hefty tab in 2013. The temptation may be there for Soriano to decline and rake in another two- or three-year deal elsewhere on the market, but he can get one of those after 2013, assuming for health.

Twins Sign Matt Capps

The Twins announced today they've re-signed reliever Matt Capps to a one-year deal with a club option for 2013.  According to an AP report, the deal will pay Capps $4.5MM in 2012 and includes a $6MM option for 2013. With a $250K buyout on the option, Capps is guaranteed $4.75MM.  He's represented by Wasserman Media Group.

Capps was acquired by the Twins in July of 2010 at the high price of Wilson Ramos, and enjoyed a successful final two months of the season, posting a 2.00 ERA and saving 16 games. He was less effective in 2011, with a 4.25 ERA and by far the lowest K/9 mark of his career (4.7).  For fantasy analysis on the signing, check out Bryan Grosnick's latest at CloserNews.

In late November as part of the collective bargaining agreement, Capps was downgraded from a Type A free agent to Type B, and it was decided the Twins would not have to offer him arbitration to receive a supplemental draft pick in return.  So, re-signing him comes at an extra cost, since they would have gotten a free, unexpected draft pick by letting him leave.

Jon Heyman and Steve Popper originally broke news of the agreement Monday.  Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.


Twins Notes: Morneau, Mauer, Cuddyer, Kubel, Capps

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joined 1500 ESPN's Talkin' Twins show last night and said the Twins are attempting to put together a team that can win even if Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau aren’t ready for Opening Day. “I think that's a pretty good idea,” Gardenhire said. “If we have those guys back on the field, which I believe we will… we'll have a heck of a baseball team." Here are more details on the Twins’ offseason plans, via Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com:

  • The team has made offers to some of its current free agents. The Twins are “making a mad effort” to sign Michael Cuddyer and they’d “love to have” Jason Kubel back. However, re-signing both players isn’t necessarily realistic.
  • Matt Capps struggled in 2011 and could bring the Twins a compensatory draft pick in 2012, but the team is working to re-sign him. Gardenhire would like to bring the right-hander back because he’s a “great teammate and a good pitcher” who pitched through pain in 2011, even though the results weren’t there and “people got frustrated with him.” The 28-year-old posted a 4.25 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 65 2/3 innings in 2011 and his peripheral stats were significantly worse than they were in 2010.
  • Gardenhire said his entire 2012 rotation is “not necessarily” on the Twins roster just yet.

Blue Jays Notes: Cooper, Drabek, Rasmus, D’Arnaud

The Blue Jays are looking for a closer this offseason and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun says the team has checked in on free agents Francisco Cordero and Matt Capps. Heath Bell is another option for the Blue Jays, who had interest in Jonathan Papelbon before he signed with the Phillies. Here are more notes on the Blue Jays, who have yet to make a major move so far this offseason…

  • The Blue Jays would listen to offers on 24-year-old first baseman David Cooper, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. Cooper, the Blue Jays' first round draft pick in 2008, debuted with the team in 2011 and posted a .678 OPS in 81 plate appearances. He won the Pacific Coast League batting title with a .364/.439/.535 line this past season, adding nine home runs and 51 doubles.
  • Blue Jays president Paul Beeston isn't a fan of the posting system and Elliott suggests Toronto's interest in Yu Darvish is "lukewarm." 
  • The Yankees are interested in Kyle Drabek, according to Elliott. Drabek started the season in the Blue Jays' rotation before being demoted to the minor leagues. He had a standout season in 2010, but struggled with command in the Majors (6.3 BB/9) and in the minors (4.9 BB/9) in 2011.
  • The Royals have some interest in Colby Rasmus because of concerns that Lorenzo Cain may not be ready for an everyday role, Elliott reports. 
  • The Phillies have discussed ways of re-obtaining Travis d'Arnaud, the Double-A catcher who arrived with Drabek in the 2009 Roy Halladay trade. As Elliott points out, the Blue Jays would need a ton to part with this year's Eastern League MVP.

Mets May Replace Paulino, Inquired On Jack Wilson

It's been a quiet offseason for the Mets to this point, but we can expect them to pursue help at shortstop whether or not Jose Reyes returns. They'll also look for depth in the rotation, the bullpen and potentially the outfield. Here’s the latest on some possible offseason moves…

  • Some Mets officials were displeased with Ronny Paulino’s defense, offense and work habits in 2011, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. “He was supposed to hit for power, and all he did was hit singles,” one Mets person told Martino. Some Mets executives would like to part with Paulino, rely on Josh Thole to catch about 60% of games and add a veteran to handle the remaining catching duties. MLBTR projects a $1.6MM salary for the arbitration eligible Paulino in 2012. 
  • Agent Page Odle confirmed to Mark Hale of the New York Post that the Mets have expressed interest in free agent infielder Jack Wilson. The Mets’ interest level in Wilson will depend on whether Reyes re-signs. If Reyes obtains better offers elsewhere, as expected, Wilson could provide depth in case Ruben Tejada's transition to shortstop doesn't go as smoothly as the team would like. 
  • Agent Paul Kinzer told Mike Puma of the New York Post that he hasn’t heard from the Mets about possible interest in Matt Capps since the GM Meetings took place two weeks ago (Twitter link).

Agent: Angels One Of 4-5 Teams With Serious Interest In Aramis

The Angels are one of five or five teams with "serious interest" in free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, agent Paul Kinzer told Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times.  DiGiovanna notes that earlier this month Angels GM Jerry Dipoto described his interest level in Ramirez as "lower, but I never close the door on anyone."

Ramirez is open to playing on the West Coast, Kinzer told DiGiovanna.  With full no-trade rights this summer, Ramirez was not so flexible.  DiGiovanna believes Ramirez could make a decision on his new team at next week's Winter Meetings.  On November 14th, Kinzer told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports Ramirez seeks a four-year deal or three years with an option.

The Angels are interested in relievers Matt Capps, Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, and Scott Linebrink, adds DiGiovanna.  They're also very interested in starter C.J. Wilson, who's touring the country meeting with suitors.


American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here

Updated team decisions:

Teams with decisions still due: