He’s still lurking out there.
As the offseason nears its close and spring training rapidly approaches, Matt Capps remains a free agent. Since the Twins bought out his 2013 option back in October, there has been very little buzz surrounding the right-handed reliever. At this point, one would have to believe that he could easily be signed to a fairly cheap one-year deal.
Should the Twins be the ones to give it to him?
At the beginning of the offseason, Terry Ryan surprisingly stated
that his No. 2 priority behind starting pitching was the bullpen. Unless you're confident that Rich Harden is going to become a quality reliever or one of the various iffy minor-league arms they brought in will pan out, nothing has really been done to address that unit as of yet.
Capps invokes a lot of strong emotions for Twins fans – mostly negative. The team gave up too much to acquire him in the first place and spent too much to retain him, myopically focusing on his experience as a closer rather than viewing him as what he is: a perfectly serviceable yet unspectacular righty arm for the late innings.
Now, the Twins have their closer in Glen Perkins, and overpaying for Capps is no longer a real concern. Relievers don’t typically land big contracts in late January, and even if Terry Ryan were to pay a bit more in a one-year pact than we’d like, it doesn’t really matter as that money isn’t going to prevent him from making any moves he would have otherwise.
There are enough intriguing arms in the mix for relief jobs
this year that one could envision the Twins cobbling together a decent unit without any additions, but Capps would immediately become one of their most established players and would increase the margin for error if, say, Jared Burton’s injury issues reemerge or Casey Fien regresses.
Capps wasn’t a great closer and his strikeout rate has plummeted in the past two seasons, coinciding with a velocity drop, but his 1.17 WHIP during that span is quite solid and he’s still under 30. As long as there aren’t major lingering questions about his health, he seems like a good bet to be an average middle reliever at worst, and a reliable setup man at best.
That would make him an asset. Even if his ability to protect leads ends up mattering little in what’s shaping up to be another down year, a bounceback campaign would position him to be flipped for something of value around the deadline (albeit not a Wilson Ramos).
Capps has caused me and others plenty of frustration over the past few years, but if you take away all that history he looks like a fine, logical option for a team looking to shore up its rotation with a solid veteran. The Twins are familiar with Capps and clearly value his presence in the clubhouse. Why not go out and get him, adding a slight jolt to this winter of inaction?