According to Bill Ladson on MLB.com, free-agent bullpen hand Matt Capps has selected the Washington Nationals as a, "finalist." The former Pirates closer, who has collected 67 saves in his five-year career, had been courted by many teams this offseason, and apparently he likes the direction the Nationals are moving in.
He told Ladson over the phone:
"They had a great offensive team [this past season]," Capps said. "If they put some pitching out there, they can play with anybody. I feel it would be a good situation and a good opportunity for me, personally. I already like the moves they already made in trying to be competitive next year and beyond. Ivan Rodriguez is a Hall of Fame catcher. To have the opportunity to throw to him and learn from him, I definitely think that is a big deal.
"It shows the direction the Nationals are trying to go. They signed him to a two-year deal - it's just not a fill-in. It shows that they are investing in the future. They want to do what's right, and they want to win."
To me, it is no surprise that the Nationals are on Capps finalist list, but unfortunately, I don't think it has anything to do with winning. Capps criteria in selecting a team is strongly footed in two factors, the opportunity for a multi-year deal, and the opportunity to close. It seems with the signing of Rodriguez, and the non-tendering of MacDougal, that both of these criteria would be filled with the Nationals.
The pure fact that the Nationals are willing to offer both those things is reason enough for Capps to put Washington on his finalists list. However, Capps can use the Nationals offer to up the anti on other teams, teams he may be more interested in playing for. Just like with Mark Teixiera last year, the Nats can drive up the price, and Capps can ride the wave. This, of course, doesn't mean that Capps has no intention on going to Washington. But the Nationals know they have to pay a premium for players, a Nats tax, and agents know it's good to get them in on the bidding war.
Why the Nationals would want to give Capps a multi-year deal I don't know. Closers tend to have about a four-to-five year shelf life and Capps seemed to hit the wall last season. Of course, there are your exceptions, your Percivals, your Mariano Rivera's, but Billy Beane has showed us that you should develop your closers and let them go. They're just not worth the money.