In recent days, the Twins have announced a few procedural moves that weren't especially surprising. Among them were the decisions to decline 2013 options for Scott Baker and Matt Capps, which would have paid $9.25 million and $6 million, respectively. With both hurlers coming off seasons severely affected by injuries, there was no incentive for the Twins to pay such a high price when they could easily negotiate a better deal in free agency.
They have already begun trying to do so with Baker, who told reporters
that his side has been talking with the club and that "we're not close, but we're definitely closer than when it started."
There's been no such steam surrounding Capps, who unlike Baker actually pitched this year, although his health and effectiveness were issues for a second consecutive campaign. Even if they're not currently engaged with Capps and his agent, I wouldn't be surprised if at some point in the offseason the Twins opened a conversation to see what kind of deal could be struck. And, despite the justifiably negative connotations that surround the former closer here in Minnesota, that wouldn't necessarily be the worst idea in the world.
Capps was overpaid in 2011, when he earned $7.15 million to post a 4.25 ERA over 65 2/3 innings, converting only 15 of 24 saves while misguidedly pitching through forearm pain. He took a pay cut this year, re-signing for $4.75 million, but again proved overpaid as shoulder problems limited him to less than 30 innings.
After back-to-back disappointing seasons, Capps figures to land a reduced contract as a setup man during the offseason. And, on those terms, he's really not a terrible bet.
It bears noting that when he was healthy this year, the right-hander pitched reasonably well, posting a 3.68 ERA while allowing only 28 hits and four walks in his 29 1/3 innings of work. This continued a career-long trend of limiting baserunners, as Capps has registered a 1.19 WHIP in his seven uneven seasons as a big-leaguer. Keeping mean off base has generally been a reliable skill for him, and is a good recipe for success even when you're not able to rack up many strikeouts.
By no means is Capps a great pitcher, and after the last few seasons I'm sure most Twins fans would eagerly watch him walk off into the sunset never to return. Nevertheless, as a 29-year-old with his value as low as it's ever been, he could be a relative bargain if signed later in the offseason to a one-year deal, provided the Twins aren't tempted to pay him as – or use him as – a closer.