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News from Nats Town: Should the Nats really go after Capps?

Interest for former Pirates closer Matt Capps is, “Enormous,” according to his agent Paul Kinzer. Capps, 26, was non-tendered by the Pirates after a rough 2009 that saw him grab 27 saves despite a 5.80 ERA and a .324 batting average against. It seams however that many teams, including the Nationals, are willing to overlook his 2009 season, and offer the solid 2006-08 bullpen hand a chance to either set up or close.

Capps in:
2006 – 80.2 ip, 56k/12bb, .266 BAA, 3.79 ERA, 1 sv
2007 – 79 ip, 64k/16bb, .220 BAA, 2.28 ERA, 18 sv
2008 – 53.2 ip, 39k/5bb, .234 BAA, 3.01 ERA, 21 sv
2009 – 54.1 ip, 46k/17bb, 3.24 BAA, 5.80 ERA, 27 sv

According to various reports, it appears the Nationals are among 13 other teams with interest in Capps. Including; the Orioles, Yankees, Tigers, Angels, Mets, Phillies, Cardinals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Rockies, Marlins and Rangers.

According to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, Matt Capps would prefer to go to the Cubs, but most importantly, he’d want a multi-year deal:

“The perception that the Cubs have a leg up in signing recently released bullpen pitcher Matt Capps could be just that, a perception. Although the former Pirates closer would love to pitch for the Cubs, upwards of 12 teams have contacted Capps’ agent, Paul Kinzer, to discuss parameters of a deal.”

Analysis: If the Nats want to land Capps they’re going to have to pay the, “Washington Premium.” That would be the extra-bit thrown into a contract to get a player to come to the worst team in baseball. For example they almost had Mark Texiera last season by offering more money than anyone else, until the Yankees matched it, and this offseason saw a lot of interest in Ivan Rodriguez, however the Nationals were the only ones willing to go out and give him a second year on the contract.

So that is what Washington will have to do if they want to land Capps, offer him a solid deal more than the $3.4 million Pittsburgh did, and possibly as many as three years. Capps has also expressed interest in being a closer, and he would certainly have that opportunity with the Nats.

Its a possible risk that the Nationals could take, but it may not be the wisest. The Nationals do need help in the bullpen, but to be honest is it worth dropping money on a closer when the team isn’t going to be all-that competitive in 2010? I don’t think so. Paying for closers is almost never worth it, which has been demonstrated time after time. It’s one of the bigger principles of Moneyball, closers are cheaper to develop than to attain.

The Nationals may be better off waiting until Drew Storen is Major League ready, and the Nationals are ready to win games for him to close.

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