Matt Capps and his looming option year
In last night's loss to the New York Yankees, Matt Capps made his return to the field after missing almost the entire second half of the season. It was the first action for Capps after not appearing in a game since the middle of July. The season has been injury plagued for the 29-year old relief pitcher and his time with the Twins has been full of plenty of ups-and-downs. Fans seem to hold a grudge against Capps for his poor play in the last couple of years but some of this hatred might be better aimed at the front office for the Twins. The past decisions with Capps have left fans scratching their heads and it's tough to know what the next move will be from the front office.[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
Back in 2010 when the Twins traded catching prospect Wilson Ramos for relief pitcher Matt Capps, there was plenty of uproar across Twins Territory. It was tough to see the Twins giving up on one of their best positional prospects for what looked like a mediocre relief pitcher. Capps would be under team control through 2011 so the team wasn't giving up a prospect for a couple months of a relief pitcher. The deal was still tough to swallow and it doesn't help that Ramos has looked good for the Nationals even though he suffered a season-ending injury earlier this year. It could go down as one of the worst trades in team history and it is one of the many things fans hold against former general manager Bill Smith.
During last offseason, the Twins had the opportunity to part ways with Mr. Capps because the veteran relief pitcher was heading to free agency for the first time in his career. If the Twins had let Capps sign with another team, the organization would have been given a draft pick as compensation for him leaving the team. Instead, the Twins thought it was more important to sign him to a contract for 2012 and the scariest thing is the fact the team has an option for next season. The option is for $6 million with a low buyout of $250,000 so it seems tough to think the Twins won't buy him out but the team has made some surprise decisions with Capps in the past.
Would the Twins ever consider bring back Capps on a one-year deal for $6 million?
Some fans might shiver at the thought of Capps being back in a Twins uniform next year especially with how good the bullpen has looked in 2012. Glen Perkins is set-up to be the closer for the next handful of years and the Twins signed him to a cheap deal during last offseason. Jared Burton has burst onto the scene as another very good arm out of the bullpen and he has shown the ability to get some big outs in late-inning situations. Looking to the offseason, the bullpen seems to be the least of the worries for the Twins and the $6 million option for Capps could be better spent on starting pitching or help in the middle infield.
It's hard to imagine what role Capps would serve if he was brought back for another season in Minnesota. Perkins and Burton seem to have the last couple innings of games under control so this would shift Capps to a set-up role in the 7th inning or earlier. The Twins have gotten a look at plenty of other options to fill-up the bullpen for next season and players like Alex Burnett, Anthony Swarzak, and Casey Fien will all come with a smaller price tag than Capps. There doesn't seem to be a place for him on the 2013 Twins but that doesn't mean he won't be back in Minnesota.
The front office has made some surprising decisions surrounding Capps in the past such as trading for him in the first place and resigning him when they had a free draft pick sitting in front of them. So even though it seems unlikely, there is always a chance the front office surprises fans again and brings Capps back for next year. When the team signed him last offseason, there were a lot of comments about his attitude and make-up being one of the reasons the team wanted him back in a Twins uniform. After back-to-back poor seasons, his attitude might not be enough to get another multi-million dollar deal in Minnesota.
Then again, I have been surprised with their decisions surrounding Capps in the past...