MLB.COM's Bill Ladson tweeted tonight at 1:16 that the Washington Nationals and former Pittsburgh Pirates closer Matt Capps have agreed to a one-year deal. The deal will put Capps in a position to compete for, and likely claim Washington's closing role in spring training.
Capps was courted by as many as 10 teams after being non-tendered by Pittsburgh this winter, but narrowed the field down to the Cubs and the Nationals on Dec. 17. From there the righty had to decide whether he wanted to be a closer for Washington, or a set-up man in Chicago. In the end, Capps wanted to be a closer.
"[I liked the Nationals because of] the way Mr. Rizzo has treated me throughout this whole process," Capps told Bill Ladson. "The Nationals organization has been first class. They expressed their interest from Day One -- the moment I was non-tendered. They wanted me to become a Washington National. That means a lot."
A one-year deal represents a perfect opportunity for the Nationals as it gives Capps a chance to re-prove himself as a closer, and the Nationals the opportunity to 'rent-a-closer' until last years first round draft pick, Drew Storen, is ready to take over the role. Capps will be able to rebuild value for 2011 free-agency, when he will be only 27, and the Nationals can exploit that value to their benefit. A true win-win.
Capps, 26, is coming off the worst year of his career after posting a 5.80 ERA, 4.90 FIP, and a 2.71 K/BB on the way to saving 27 games. While Capps performed poorly in 2009, his 2006-08 was stellar. Capps posted ERA's of 3.79, 2.28, and 3.02 while saving 18, 21, and 27 games for the lowly Pirates. While Capps 2009 performance was a concern for many teams, his .340 BABIP and his steady velocity have led many to think that maybe he just got unlucky, and just needs to get his accuracy under control.