Matt Capps Rumors
Since few teams have been completely eliminated from contention, the trade market is developing slowly, according to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff. As of today, the top commodity available is relief pitching and there’s lots of interest in that department. Here are the rest of Davidoff’s notes on the trade market:
- Heath Bell, Francisco Rodriguez, Chad Qualls and Luke Gregerson are available.
- The Mets believe they can keep their fans interested even if they trade Rodriguez.
- The Diamondbacks, Brewers, Cardinals and Rangers are among the teams that are heavily in the mix for relievers.
- It appears extremely unlikely that the Mets will trade Jose Reyes, but his top suitors would likely include the Reds, Indians, Giants and Mariners, four teams that have poked around for infield help, according to Davidoff. It’s even possible that the Red Sox would pursue Reyes if he became available.
- The Orioles aren’t quite ready to shop Koji Uehara and the Twins aren’t quite ready to shop Matt Capps. In fact, the Twins aren’t going to sell until they’re sure they’re out of contention.
- The Yankees are focused on finding a lefty reliever, a commodity the Red Sox and Tigers would also like to acquire.
- Though no frontline starters appear to be available, the Yankees are looking to acquire a top starter. Cleveland and Detroit are also looking for rotation help.
- The Mariners are looking for an outfielder and the Phillies are still looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder.
- One official says the Rays are “buying and selling.” Johnny Damon could be had in the right deal, according to Davidoff.
The Diamondbacks are 2.5 games back of the Giants in the NL West and two back of the NL Wildcard, and they'll be able to add reinforcements at the trade dealine. Team president/CEO Derrick Hall told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that GM Kevin Towers will have the flexibility to add payroll in a midseason trade.
"We’ve got the flexibility," said Hall. "Our ownership group is willing to invest in this team. We've told KT, 'If we're in it, we'll do whatever it takes to support you.'"
For now, the D'Backs are hopeful that recent callups Yhency Brazoban and Alberto Castillo can improve the bullpen. They will continue to monitor outside options, and Morosi notes the team with the most available bullpen help is Towers' former team, the Padres. He also mentioned Matt Capps as a name to keep in mind. Arizona started the season with a $53.6MM payroll, the sixth smallest in the game.
There are indications that Cubs owner Tom Ricketts could be considering a management overhaul in Chicago, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe thinks Ricketts would do well to hire as many Red Sox people as possible. Cafardo suggests that Allard Baird, Ben Cherington, and DeMarlo Hale are among the names that should be attractive to the Cubs. Here are some other highlights from the Globe's Sunday Notes:
- Matt Capps should draw plenty of trade interest if the Twins decide to move him. However, the closer likely won't become available until the Twins are absolutely sure they're out of the race, as the defending AL Central champs will be reluctant to give up on their season.
- If the Nationals are willing to deal him, there will be a strong market for setup man Tyler Clippard. Cafardo speculates that Clippard would be a good fit for the Yankees or Phillies.
- An AL GM on the Athletics' decision to replace manager Bob Geren with Bob Melvin: "[GM Billy] Beane made the move now because he thought there was something to salvage. They still have the pitching. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility."
- Any contenders with interest in Orlando Cabrera may be able to acquire him sooner rather than later, after the Indians' promotion of Cord Phelps reduced Cabrera to a part-time role.
- Jason Bay's most recent slump had the Mets' $66MM man out of the lineup this week. "His bat is slow and he’s just not himself," said one veteran scout. "The ballpark [Citi Field] isn’t good for him, but the way he hit his home runs, I never thought that was a big issue."
- The Twins appear to be having second thoughts about the trade that sent Wilson Ramos to Washington for Matt Capps. Ramos is playing well and Joe Mauer has spent much of the season on the disabled list.
- It wouldn’t surprise people if J.D. Drew and Roy Oswalt retire after the season, according to Heyman. Oswalt and the Phillies have a mutual option for 2012 and Drew is a free agent after the season.
- Jose Reyes’ remarkable play has essentially forced the Mets to make him “a respectable offer.” The prospective free agent has been one of the best players in the game so far this season.
- Mets right-hander Matt Harvey and Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper are too good for Class A, according to Heyman. Harvey has a 2.49 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and Harper has 14 home runs and a .342/.436/.619 line.
- Barring a miracle, the Twins will be sellers this July, but they aren’t ready to trade anyone yet.
- One rival executive says they will eventually talk about trading prospective free agents including Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome and Matt Capps. The Twins would have interest in re-signing some of those players after the season and could conceivably do so even after trading them (the Indians did that with Austin Kearns last year).
- Though Jose Reyes is the Mets’ most exciting player, the consensus is that the Mets are going to have an easier time trading Carlos Beltran, partly because they will feel the need to get more in return for Reyes.
- The draft could be significantly different under a new collective bargaining agreement (baseball’s current CBA expires in December) and one scouting director says MLB needs to make changes, including a possible worldwide draft. "The dollars that are being asked now in Latin America are a joke,” the director said. “And this is the only way to address it."
- One small-market official says a slotting system would hurt small market clubs, since it would prevent them from out-spending deep-pocketed teams on draft picks.
- One GM suggests moving the draft back to the All-Star break and making it more of an event.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count video up, so let's dive in...
- If the Red Sox have one need, it's a right-handed hitter that can play multiple positions and come off the bench. Jeff Baker of the Cubs fits the bill, but Yamaico Navarro could be an in-house solution. He's on the minor league disabled list with an oblique issue, however.
- The Twins usage of Matt Capps could impact the way teams view him at the trade deadline and as a free agent after the season. The righty has thrown multiple innings six times already, and is dealing with some forearm issues.
- Team are calling the Padres about not just Heath Bell, but also Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson. They will listen to offers for all of their relievers, but they have to get the right bats in return to move them.
- Mitch Talbot will get a few more starts for the Indians following his elbow issue, but righty Zach McAllister represents an alternative. They acquired him from the Yankees for Austin Kearns last year.
Before the season, MLBTR writers identified 13 players who were set for 'make or break' years. These players had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for success in free agency. Now that we're at the quarter pole for the 2011 season, let's check in on the lucky 13 players (all links go to the MLBTR posts):
- Scott Kazmir - Kazmir, now on the DL, has appeared in one game this year and he allowed five runs, five hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. I'll be surprised if he signs a guaranteed contract this winter.
- Nate McLouth - McLouth was coming off a poor 2010 season, but the results are much better in 2011. He has a .262/.355/.379 line, though UZR/150 suggests his defense in center field has been poor since 2009.
- Grady Sizemore - After missing most of 2010 with a knee surgery that required microfracture surgery, Sizemore returned with a vengeance, only to hit the disabled list with an injury to his other knee. In 18 games before he got hurt, Sizemore posted a .282/.333/.641 line with six homers.
- Ryan Doumit - Though he has only stepped to the plate 82 times, Doumit has a healthy .278/.358/.458 batting line. The switch-hitter has been available in trades for a while and it wouldn't be surprising to see him dealt this summer.
- Jonathan Broxton - Broxton is on the disabled list with a bruised right elbow and there's no timetable for his return. If he doesn't pitch well later this season, he will be overshadowed by this offseason's strong crop of free agent relief pitchers.
- Joel Zumaya - Zumaya had elbow surgery a week ago today and is now resting and rehabbing. It's not clear that he'll return to the Tigers this year.
- Casey Blake - Blake required surgery for an elbow infection and could return to the Dodgers soon. Before he got hurt, the 37-year-old had a .956 OPS in 66 plate appearances.
- Aramis Ramirez - Ramirez is off to a so-so .287/.347/.368 start, but his power can sneak up on people, as it did last year when he hit 19 homers after July 5th.
- Edwin Jackson - Still just 27, Jackson has a 4.53 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 55 2/3 innings. His name appears multiple times on the leaderboard for free agent starters.
- Bobby Abreu - The 37-year-old doesn't have much power at this stage in his career (.327 slugging, .072 isolated power), but you won't find many hitters capable of a .377 OBP.
- Carlos Beltran - Beltran has rebounded in a big way this year. The way he's hitting (.286/.381/.564, 8 homers) he'll be among the most appealing free agents available after the season. I suggested this spring that he and agent Scott Boras could ask for a multiyear deal and that seems even more likely now.
- Matt Capps - Capps hasn't walked anyone in 18 1/3 innings and he has five saves and a 3.93 ERA. The 27-year-old's value doesn't appear to have changed much this year.
- Jeff Francis - Though Francis is 0-5 with a 4.83 ERA, he has averaged 6.0 innings per start for the Royals and has a respectable 27K/10BB ratio. The left-hander seems healthy after consecutive seasons with shoulder issues.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count Video up, so let's recap...
- Hunter Pence is getting expensive - he'll earn $6.9MM this year with two more arbitration years ahead of him - but Astros GM Ed Wade said that he wants to build around his young players, namely Pence, Brett Wallace, J.A. Happ, and Bud Norris. As much as they need to rebuild, it's unlikely that new owner Jim Crane will want to blow up the nucleus as his first act.
- If things don't turn around for the Twins, this could be the year that they become sellers. Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, Jim Thome, Matt Capps, and Joe Nathan are all among the team's upcoming free agents, though some in the organization would like to see them re-sign Capps.
- The Braves' starting pitching depth could give them an advantage at the trade deadline. They could move a veteran like Derek Lowe or a younger starter because they have more arms on the way. Lowe is the perfect piece to dangle to a contender such as the Yankees, but Atlanta doesn't have an obvious need right now.
- Starting pitching depth is the Red Sox's one glaring weakness, and Rosenthal says an injury to one of their top five starters would leave the team "seriously unsettled."
Some news from the Twins, as they wrap up a four-game series in Baltimore tonight...
- The Twins may eventually regret dealing Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for Matt Capps last summer, but Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post writes that Minnesota appreciates the depth that Capps has provided at closer with Joe Nathan struggling.
- Should the Twins consider moving Joe Mauer to another position? MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince argues no, since Mauer's full value comes from the fact that he can deliver MVP-caliber numbers from the premium position of catcher. Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune argues yes, since the rigors of catching every day may already be taking a toll on Mauer's hitting. "Would you rather have Mauer serving as a pretty-good-hitting catcher who needs plenty of days off and occasional trips to the disabled list, or a great-hitting corner position player who plays 160 games a year? I'll take the latter," Souhan says.
The winter of 2011 was a good time to be a reliever in search of a new contract. Beginning with Joaquin Benoit's three-year deal with the Tigers, the offseason saw a total of 17 relievers sign multiyear contracts, according to MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker. Of those 17 deals, ten were worth eight figures.
While this is great news for next winter's class of free agent relievers, it doesn't necessarily guarantee a massive payday. As our list of potential free agents shows, competition for late-inning relief roles next year should be fierce, with a number of intriguing arms poised to hit the market. Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Cordero, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, and Jose Valverde are just a few of the pitchers who could be available after 2011.
Matt Capps figures to be among that group of free agent relievers after the season, and his will be one of the more interesting cases to monitor. The right-hander is coming off an exceptional 2010, in which he saved 42 games and recorded a 2.47 ERA between Washington and Minnesota. Capps was rewarded with a $7.15MM salary in his final arbitration season, but another raise next year is no sure thing.
Capps is just a year removed from a 2009 campaign so poor that the Pirates non-tendered him at season's end. After posting career-worst marks in ERA (5.80), BB/9 (2.8), and HR/9 (1.7), Capps righted the ship last season, making 2009 look like an anamoly. However, in what is essentially a contract year, the 27-year-old can't afford to regress again.
Capps' road to a lucrative multiyear deal is also made a little tougher by his probable role with the 2011 Twins. Joe Nathan, returning from Tommy John surgery, has been very effective this spring, and will likely get a chance to reclaim his closer's job as long as he's healthy. We saw plenty of setup men sign sizable contracts this past winter, but another season of 40+ saves would arguably set Capps up for a much bigger payday.
Even in a setup role and up against 2012's intimidating class of free agent relievers, Capps should have no problem earning himself an eight-figure contract if he continues to pitch like he did in 2010. There's not a whole lot of margin for error though. If Capps turns in a season closer to 2009's performance, teams will have no shortage of alternate options for their late-inning needs.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.