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Free Agent Fit: Matt Capps

Posted By Howard Megdal On November 16, 2011 @ 11:20 am In Business of Baseball,Player moves | Comments Disabled

There’s lots to get to this week, from the release of ticket plans for partial-season packs to the 50th Anniversary celebration plans. But first on the agenda is a look at a rarity: a player the Mets are rumored to want, rather than a player that is too expensive: Matt Capps.

Let’s apply the Free Agent Fit test, shall we?

1. Can this player help the Mets? Sort of, I guess. Capps has been a solid reliever for most of his career on the back of good control and a respectable strikeout rate. His 2011 walk rate of 1.8/9 was exactly in line with his career numbers, but his 4.7/9 strikeout rate was two per nine below his career mark of 6.6, and even further below his 7+/9 he’s put up in his best years.

Now, there’s no obvious reason for this. His velocity on his fastball was 92.9 MPH last year, right at his career average of 93 even. Interestingly, the outlier on velocity was his slider going up- at 87.1 MPH, that is signifficantly higher than his 84.7 MPH career mark. Simply put, the differential might not have been enough to force swings and misses.

For his part, Bill James projects Capps to have a return to the mid-6s in Ks/9, which would make him a perfectly respectable relief option. Considering that the Mets don’t have a reliever projected to be even league average [1] on the roster right now, that’s obviously a help.

2. What kind of contract can he expect? Probably a multi-year deal at around $5 million per season or so. There are a lot of closers and not many openings, so much depends on if he signs early, or becomes the last closer standing and has to take what he can get.

3. Can the Mets afford him in 2012? If the Mets are at a $95 million payroll, and bring back Angel Pagan and Mike Pelfrey, they probably can add a Matt Capps or two by filling most other roles within.

4. What is the maximum amount the Mets should offer him? In my mind, seeing the answer to question two, I have no idea why they’d offer him much more than one year with an option at $3-4 million per season. There are nine “closers” on the market, as per MLB Trade Rumors, and Capps is probably eighth or ninth on the list. Why the Mets would pay any premium to lock him up, instead of waiting to see who is left standing and wants a closer job, is beyond me. The only intangible advantage I see is that my 19-month-old daughter loves the book “Caps For Sale”, so she already knows how to say his name.

5. What are the chances I think he is a Met in 2012? Pretty high. The Mets look like they want to spend what money they have on bullpen pieces. That isn’t how I’d spend my money but then, I’m not making those decisions. It wouldn’t surprise me if they acquired one of the other closer options instead, though- Jonathan Broxton on an incentive-laden deal has always made a lot of sense, too.

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[1] projected to be even league average: http://www.baseballthinkfactory.org/files/oracle/discussion/2012_zips_projections_-_new_york_mets/

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