So it seems a forgone conclusion in most people's minds that the Twins are going to offer Capps arbitration. It also seems forgone to most that this is a bad decision or in some peoples minds the worst decision ever. Now I realize most, if not all of these people are much more informed than me when it comes to baseball players, etc. However I just fail to see the logic in non-tendering Capps.
I have seen this topic mentioned often and most seem to feel the right decision is to let Capps walk for nothing. Most recently by Twinsgeek. He especially seems to feel this would be a drastic mistake.
1. I can agree that Capps will likely be overpaid but not by that much. If you strip away the magical save statistic Capps would still be considered a top setup man in the league. To make it easy let's compare him to Matt Guerrier. They've had quite similar major league careers just at different ages. Both have been very good setup men throughout their careers (remember we're imagining that Capps was not a closer) They both had a year they'd like to forget in their fourth seasons that kept them from making too much during their 2nd year of arbitration. They both rebounded and had good 5th years that brought their price back up. Guerrier made 3.15 million in his final season of team controlled arbitration. I think it's a fair assumption that Capps would be worth a bit more because of his age and his better strikeout and walk rates. So I'm assuming Capps makes between 3.5 and 4 million. In conclusion if he makes 6-7 million this year then the Twins are overpaying 2-3 million.
2. The last point of him being younger than Guerrier was while he was under team control brings up another point. Capps is just now entering his prime years as an athlete. I know I've heard it stated before that the prime years for baseball players is 26-29. If that's incorrect then my bad, but I'm pretty sure it's right. So there's a real chance he comes back and has a better season this year than last.
3. If Capps ends up being the Twins primary closer and can put together a season at least as good and hopefully a little better than his 2010 season he could be a very valuable player in 2012. If he can put together another good season as a closer he could very well net the Twins draft picks. (Side Note: I don't like Nathan's chances of being very good next year are very good.) If this scenario were to play out then the Twins might actually win the trade. Ramos for 1 1/2 years of an above average closer plus 2 compensatory picks, yah I'd do that again.
4. This is somewhat of a point to support #3, but it also stands alone. Are the Twins and the arbitration system the only entities in baseball that over value saves? Are bloggers the only ones who really get that it's an overrated statistic? The simple answer is no. My point being that another solid season as a closer from a guy who will be 28 to start the 2012 season will definitely get a multi year contract from some team looking for a closer. Maybe that team will be the Twins, who knows but that's a debate for next off season. It also makes me think that some team would be willing to give up something now to get Capps for a one year 7 million contract. While we would not get a guy like Wilson Ramos back, I would bet something useful could be found. He did nothing during his time with the Twins to decrease his value did he? I think Bill Smith has shown he's a competent GM and I'm sure there were other GM's making offers for Capps this summer.
So, in conclusion, I think the Twins would be a bit crazy to non-tender Capps. There's still some upside to his playing ability and the chance that he's worth draft picks next year. At the very least you offer him arbitration and trade him. If you need the money and can't get what you want then you trade him for peanuts and you're in the same spot as you would have been had you just non-tendered him. I think that at the very least they would get some low level player with good upside. To me, non-tendering him would be a mistake that the Twins would likely regret.