It was an up-and-down ride for Capps during his stint in Minnesota but it seemed like plenty of more ups than downs. He came to the Twins in the middle of one of the team's best regular seasons on record and he stayed with the organization through two of their worst seasons ever. Throughout his career with the Twins, he has cost the team one of their top prospects, $13 million in salary, and a compensation round draft pick. This is a stiff price to pay for a man that accumulated mediocre statistics during his time on the mound.
When the Twins acquired Capps back in 2010 at the trade deadline, there was a small uproar from fans that were upset about the deal. Bill Smith and the other members of the front office thought it was a good idea to trade away Wilson Ramos, the best catching prospect in the organization since Joe Mauer, for the closer from the Nationals.
Joe Nathan's elbow injury had left the team with a hole at the back-end of the bullpen so the team had tried to fill that void with other arms including Jon Rauch. The first half of the season hadn't been terrible for Rauch and it didn't seem like Capps would be much of an improvement. This caused turmoil between Capps and the fans before he had even stepped on the field for the Twins.
Capps would only throw 27.0 inning for the Twins in 2010 but he was very good in those appearances. He had a low 2.00 ERA and he only had a couple of blown saves down the stretch as the Twins made their way to the postseason. During the playoffs, he would make one appearance as the dreaded Yankees swept the Twins and he gave up one run on a couple hits in the frame.
Fans of the Twins had seen the best of Capps in 2010 and the rest of his time with the club would not play out very well for the right-handed hurler. If Capps had been one of the integral pieces to lead the Twins to the World Series in 2010, fans would have forgotten about the deal to bring him to Minnesota. Instead fans had to deal with another playoff sweep by the Yankees and the loss of one of the team's best young players.
With question marks surrounding the return of Joe Nathan from major elbow surgery, the Twins felt it was in their best interest to offer arbitration to Capps. He would end up making $7.15 million through the arbitration process and the Twins would have a ton of money tied up between the two men at the back end of their bullpen.
It was a rough year for Capps as he fought through some injuries and other aches and pains to stay on the mound for the Twins. Nathan was ineffective at the beginning of the year so the team turned the closing duties over to Capps for the first part of the season. His ERA bubbled to over 4.00 and he gave up a whopping 10 home runs in his 65.2 innings pitched. Fans took out their frustration on him at the end of the season as the boo birds came out in full force when he would take the mound at Target Field. There were high expectations for the Twins after 2010 so the ineffectiveness of Capps became a point of anger for the fan base.
At the end of 2011, it seemed like the Twins might be able to get away from Capps after his rough year with the club. He would be a free agent and the Twins would be compensated if he left the club and signed with another team. With some changes to the collective bargaining agreement, the Twins didn't even have to offer arbitration to Capps for the club to get the extra-draft pick. As long as Capps signed with another team, the Twins would get an extra pick in the round between the first and second round. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time for the Twins to let Capps pack his bags and to turn over the closing duties to Glen Perkins after a fantastic season from the left-handed pitcher.
The Twins didn't see it this way and they brought back Capps on a deal that would pay him $4.5 million plus the $250,000 buyout for this year. It was a head-scratching move at the time and it is only more confusing after the injury-plagued season Capps put together.
It seems like Capps was a very nice man and the coaches and front office for the Twins enjoyed having him be part of the team over the last few seasons. Looking back at the total cost of Capps to the Twins, it can be frustrating to think about how little the team got for their money. There was one lousy season, an injury plagued season, and a portion of a good season when he first joined the club. His final numbers: 3.61 ERA over 122 innings with 45 saves and 12 blown saves.
And here is the final bill:
- Salary and buyout: $13 million
- Wilson Ramos (25-year old catcher): 2.1 WAR since being traded
- 2012 Compensation Round Draft Pick: Value unknown
- Total Bill: ?????