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Should the Nats trade Capps?

Jul 6, 2010, 3:05 PM EDT


Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Matt Capps' trade value will never be higher than it is now.

Matt Capps is going to get a lot of attention for the next week, and deserves some time in the spotlight. After an incredibly difficult 2009 both professionally and personally, he has enjoyed a fantastic first half with the Nationals and has become one of the most well-liked players inside the clubhouse.

Teammates, coaches and others were genuinely happy for Capps when he learned he'd made his first All-Star roster on Sunday. You can debate whether he was the Nats player most worthy of the selection — and yes, guys like Ryan Zimmerman, Josh Willingham and Tyler Clippard probably had a stronger case — but you can't debate what he's meant to this team since arriving last winter.

Which makes this difficult, but necessary, to say: The Nationals need to seriously think about trading Capps before the end of the month.

Trade away one of the most-successful closers in the majors? Trade away the cornerstone of one of the best relief trios in baseball? Trade away a guy who will still be under the Nats' control next season?

Yes, if the offer is right, for one primary reason: Capps' value will never be higher than it is right now.

This is a guy, let's remember, who wasn't tendered a contract by the Pirates in December. Now, that decision was mostly a financial one, but it's not as if dozens of teams were banging on Capps' doorRead more ยป

  1. Janner33 - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    Try to keep the Storen-Clippard-Capps trio going for a while longer. Two reasons.1. Capps is a popular figure in the locker room, and the equilibrium the team has seemed to have finally gained this season will be in danger of being lost;2. Just as many previous posters questioned why Clippard couldn't be used as a spot starter (answer: his arm has been conditioned for only say, 3 innings at most), it would be a shame for Clippard to then be limited to only 1 inning (2 max) of work as a closer. His pitching has REALLY taken off this season. Same goes for Storen. He seems capable of 3 innings of work on any given night. While Storen is so young, let's at least ide that arm for a few innings of work for the next couple of seasons. Then convert him to closer!

  2. Matteo - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    The answer is yes as long as you get good value in return. This can't be trading for someone's damaged goods and a bucket of baseballs. If you can get a B+ or better prospect or two for him then pull the trigger. This team still has a serious lack of depth in the minors with few A type prospects down there.

  3. Jaxpo Nat - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:23 PM

    Trade Capps? Absolutely they should.

  4. Josh - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    If the right price is offered (and I can imagine that it would be) the Nats should definitely go ahead with the deal. There are plenty of teams who should be interested in Capps, from teams trying to add a relief pitcher for the playoffs to teams trying to add a young closer for the future. I love Storen and he is clearly the closer for the Nats next year, and as you said, Clippard can hold it down for the rest of this season. It will also give Storen an opportunity to close out a few games for himself. Definitely something to consider.

  5. sjm105 - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    tough call, I didn't realize he was only 26. Agree that Storen will be the closer and maybe sooner than later. Still not totally sold on Clippard in that role but like him in the 7th or 8th. I guess if we really got a solid everyday player it would make sense, but I think with the season going the way it is you let Morgan and Bernadina get the bulk of the time in the outfield and they either play their way on or off this team. If you could combine Guzman and Capps to make a better deal I am all for that as well. We need a 2nd baseman for the future.

  6. Dave Nichols - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Capps has been best-case scenario for the Nats. He'll be due a HUGE raise next year. Closers are made of opportunity, not born or bred.He should be traded.

  7. MM - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    "…The lifespan of a major-league closer is minimal…"+"…That job has Storen's name written all over it. …"= Drew Storen has minimal major-league closer lifespan

  8. raymitten - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Keep Capps. After suffering with Joel Hanrahan and Co. over the past couple of years, and seeing the need for a bullpen, getting rid of any good arm out there seems foolish. Storen and Capps can share closing if they want to break in Storen. Ever hear of the Nasty Boys? How did that turn out? Oh yeah, they won the World Series. If the fifth place Reds had traded Dibble in 1989 because they had Charlton and Franco, 1990 would have never happened.

  9. Sam - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Yes! Completely agree. Trade him while you can get something of value for him.Also, saves are such a poor way to judge a reliever or any pitcher. So, if a guy racks up a lot of saves and you know he isn't as good as the amount of saves suggests, trade him while the value is high!

  10. Positively Half St. - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    I would trade Capps first before other players who have been mentioned. I truly have enjoyed his success, but I would definitely try to get a great return and thank him for his service.

  11. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Trade whoever you can get more value for between Capps and Clippard, assuming the price is right for either. Whoever doesn't get traded can be the setup man for Drew next season. If the offers are good enough, they should consider trading both. Bullpens are unpredictable from year to year anyways.

  12. Greg - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Good read. As a Pirates fan, I couldn't agree more. When Capps was let go last winter, the only thing that truly made me angry was that we were unable to obtain anything in return. As you mentioned, Capps is a solid bullpen option and potential premier closer. However, take what you can get with him and move on. The potential value you could receive from dumping Capps is much more worth the risk than using him til he dries out and leaves you with nothing.

  13. Paul - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Couldn't agree with you more Mark. Capps value cannot be any higher and we have a very solid bullpen from top to bottom such that we can trade from a position of strength. If we can get a deal like the O's got for George Sherril (note how fantastically he has regressed, that Josh Bell deal looks like a complete steal now) we should jump on that.Further, I would entertain deals for Clippard as well. He seems due for a downturn and has been much more hittable as of late.

  14. Todd Boss - Jul 6, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    Absolutely you trade Capps if you get a decent deal. Absolutely. Saves are the most ridiculously over-emphasized statistic in baseball. If some other team wants to give us prospects or mlb-ready players in positions that we really need them (center, right, catching depth, starter depth) to buy Capps and his tight-rope walking act, you have to do it.Clippard or Storen could close out games for us. In the Billy Beane theory of baseball, closers are fungible assets that are to be sold at their highest value.

  15. Sully - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    But what playoff teams need a closer? Phillies?

  16. sec3mysofa - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    argument for: they might indeed be able to get a decent return on a guy who probably won't still be effective in 2012. For the right deal, I'll trade anybody.against: since they cannot, by rule, trade Storen yet, the conversation probably starts with Clippard, I think. Would he bring more than Capps? I don't know, and I suspect nobody does until the deal happens. Either way, we've seen they really do need three guys out there, and after Storen, I don't know who that third guy would be if they trade one of these three.

  17. DCJohn - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    The next six games will tell. If the Nats split 3-3 or end up 2-4, do whatever. But if the Nats sweep one of these and take two out of three, then I would say no. There is a chemistry building around this team and I would like to see it play out through out the rest of the season. Besides, we haven't done that great with trade dead line trades, anyway. Is there a second baseman out there for the taking. A power hitting right fielder. A promising lead-off man. I like to see how this performs when the those arms are suppose to heal and come back.

  18. bobn - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Nobody is expendable…except Zim and Stras. A good backup catcher and some farm talent would suffice.

  19. bdrube - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    We cannot afford to make the same mistake we made with Dmitri in 2007 and Guzman in 2008, who were given lead weight contract extensions right after being our All Star representatives at the exact moment that their trade values were at their highest. Relief pitching is one of the few areas where the Nats actually have value to sell.

  20. Jimmy D - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    The answer would be easy if he were older. But 26? That makes it a tough call. I wouldn't mind watching Storen, Clip and Save for years to come, shutting down teams from 7-9 on a regular basis. For the price to be right to deal him, some other GM would have to offer a lot in return. Maybe too much for it to have a realistic shot at happening.

  21. Steve M. - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    Trade him for a AA or AAA top prospect if you can as the Nats need one more outfielder who can step in next year, and if Jesus Flores can't be counted on the Nats need a catcher, and most likely a 2nd baseman or shortstop depending on Ian Desmond's future in the middle of the infield.I wouldn't make any trade unless it was a sure thing as Capps is young and I believe the Nats control him for next year too.

  22. Sec3MySofa - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Majority seems to be willing to trade him "for the right deal"–but what's that deal? I don't think a AA middle infielder is enough. Who needs a closer, right now today? The Brewers are falling off in a winnable division, partly for lack of a closer. Could you get, say, Cory Hart for Capps/Clippard AND Bernadina? Just one thought, to offer a barometer here.

  23. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    I say don't trade him. If a team walks through the doors and offers you a top-5 prospect on their squad, then sure, take it and run (Which I don't think will happen cause now that the Dodgers need cheap labor they gotta hold onto the Josh Bells and Carlos Santanas of the world). Normally, I am a huge believer in the Billy Beane method of churning out closer after closer, using what they got and discarding them for either picks or prospects. The difference here, is that Capps has a lot more in the tank to give. The team has control over Capps for a few more years and by offering arbitration/one year deals he can be had pretty cheaply. In fact so are Clippard, Burnett, and of course, Storen. That's a lot of talent for a low cost. So if the Nats plan on spending to enhance the offense that surrounds their young nucleus, then that's cool. By taking pressure off the pitching staff as a whole Capps becomes a little more expendable. But if not, then hold onto the bulls in that pen a little longer, get what ya can out of em for a few more years and then sell them off for better prospects when "fame" and "gas left in the tank" have balanced out a bit more. For God sakes SOMEONE has to backup Strasburg and Zimmermann….. and it surely doesnt look like it will be the offense any time soon.

  24. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    What do you think? Should the Nationals make a serious attempt to deal Capps before the July 31 deadline, or should they try to keep the Storen-Clippard-Capps trio together beyond this season?You have framed the question backwards. It's not a case of the Nats having Capps's value burning a hole in their pocket, as money they should be itching to spend. It's a case of the team having needs and seeking out players to fill those needs. If they settle on a player that meets some need they're trying to fill, and if the cost of that player happens to be Capps, then yes they should consider trading him. Otherwise, there's no need to. Keep in mind that your statement that his value will never be higher may not be true. His value depends every bit as much on the availability of a buyer as it does on how well Capps is performing. For instance, I could sink $1M of improvements into my house, but its value could not go up at all if there's no one willing to pay that price. Or I could let it rot and someone desperate for the land could buy it for $1M more. Markets are funny that way, and the trade market is just that – a market. If a deadline arises and there's something that either needs to be bought or that must be sold before the deadline, price anomalies can occur. In this case, though, Capps is not something that needs to be sold. So unless there's some other team out there with a desperate need to buy Capps, to the point that they offer an outlandish price, he won't be. Could he be the price that the Nats pay for someone they absolutely need to buy? Sure. But who's that player? Start naming names, and then we'll see.

  25. natscan reduxit - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    "What do you think? Should the Nationals trade (sic)Capps …? "… it might not be a bad idea, save for one thing. As Mark says, the reason to trade him now is that his value will never be higher. I.e we're afraid we won't get any more for him than right now. I.e. make a trade out of fear. … and it's never right to do anything out of fear.Go Nats!

  26. tystoneman - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    Capps is 26? Dear lord! How does he manage to appear so young and trim.

  27. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    "since they cannot, by rule, trade Storen yet,"Actually they can. It's been over a year now since he signed.

  28. Sec3MySofa - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    "and it's never right to do anything out of fear."Oh, I don't know. I've always found fear to be an excellent motivator.

  29. Sec3 - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:52 PM

    "since they cannot, by rule, trade Storen yet,"Actually they can. It's been over a year now since he signed. ***************Has it really? Wow, that just flew by.

  30. Sec3 - Jul 6, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    And that also changes the question, or at least my answer.If you'll trade Capps for the right deal, and therefore presumably Clippard for the right deal, what would it take to trade Storen?

  31. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    my lord people… the Nats will NEVER be competitive if we continuously sell our talent for 'prospects'… the hope of future talent. We are not the Pirates or Royals of old.Keep Capps, keep our bullpen, etc. The bullpen is one of our few bright spots. Our defense and starting pitching is terrible. And i'm tired of hearing StanK talk about all the DL SP's that are 'waiting in the wings' to help us out. Most of them are young and unproven, or mediocre MLB starters.We should be trying to ACQUIRE players- taking on salary from teams trying to shed payroll. Top 10 market, bottom 5 payroll. MLB team average is $77 million, the Nats are at about $63 million.

  32. JayB - Jul 6, 2010 at 5:48 PM

    Yes Mark, Trade Capps for catching and OF prospects. Trade Guzman, Harris and Kennedy for whatever you can get. Keep Dunn but trade Willingham for MLB ready catcher and/or 2B

  33. markfd - Jul 6, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    Interesting topic Mark, I would say with the exception of Storen, Harper, Zimmerman and Strasburg, Rizzo should be listening/shopping all of the players in the organization. If you can sell high, especially with a pitcher and get a good return you should do so!

  34. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 6:07 PM

    Who is Harper? I don't see anyone on the roster by that name.

  35. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 6:29 PM

    Either way, we've seen they really do need three guys out there, and after Storen, I don't know who that third guy would be if they trade one of these three.Yes, definitely trade the guy. Its the big reason why I was glad to see Peralta. It means Mike Rizzo is thinking along these lines. They can more than get by with Peralta, Storen, Clippard, Slaten and Burnett. In fact I believe they would actually be BETTER. Plus there is NatsFarm favorite Josh Wilkie who perhaps deserves a shot in the bullpen.No matter how you look at it trading Capps makes sense. If they could get a catching prospect like Jason Castro of the Astros – bonus!

  36. aspenbubba - Jul 6, 2010 at 6:44 PM

    I don't have a problem with trading Capps or even Clip if we get major league ready prospects. We have enough inventory in SP that we could convert to RP when the injured return.Stammen, Martin, Atilano Detwiler , Balester all are good candidateds for the pen.

  37. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    Storen? A trade commodity? Perhaps, but from what I've read Mike Rizzo proposed very one-side trades. Aroldis Chapman is now a AAA reliever who is not as good as Storen … once again Rizzo turns out to be right by not bidding higher than the Reds.I don't think you trade Storen … perhaps Clippard? But not Storen.Trade Dunn first. Keep Willingham as he appears to be the better all-around player.

  38. phil dunn - Jul 6, 2010 at 7:04 PM

    I would trade him if we could get something worthwhile in return. Capps hasn't been light out effective. He's had many narrow escapes when he's come in to pitch the 9th inning and he's blown a few save opportunities. He's given up 44 hits in 36 innings, which is nothing to brag about.

  39. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 7:17 PM

    Like most people, I think that if you get a valuable long-term (or potentially long-term) position player, then go for it. Don't trade him just to trade him. If you can get, say, the 2B equivalent of Bernadina (ML-ready but not completely polished or proven, early- to mid-20's, high ceiling, etc), then by all means pull the trigger. If not, if that's unrealistic, then forget it. We've got a solid back of the bullpen for the next couple years at least.

  40. raymitten - Jul 6, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    "my lord people… the Nats will NEVER be competitive if we continuously sell our talent for 'prospects'… the hope of future talent. We are not the Pirates or Royals of old."Amen! Keep the major league talent we have!!

  41. A DC Wonk - Jul 6, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    I am generally pretty loath to trade some of our starters, more so than others here.OTOH, it seems that relief pitching is the one area where we have an inordinate amount of talent compared to the other areas of the Nats (Nats are average in hitting, a bit below average in starting pitching, dead last in fielding, and pretty darn good in relief pitching).And so, trading some relief pitching to help the other areas make sense.Furthermore, all season long I've thought that Capps was only the second best reliever ont he team (behind Clippard), and for a number of weeks I've come to believe that Capps is actually the #3 guy on the team (behind Clip and Storen).So, if your #3 guy is the one with the gaudy (but useless) stats (saves) and if he's also the one that gets the all star appearance, then, as Mark noted: his value will probably never be higher than it is right now. (Even more so if you really think he's the third best on the team).

  42. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 9:20 PM

    Great discussion both ways. Not sure where I come down, but given his youth, relative low cost, and the cohesion the bullpen is enjoying, I think there's something to the 'chemistry' argument by raymitten and others. But, when you're last (?!) in team defense and your hitting is only mediocre, obviously you're not going to turn down a chance to improve the team.

  43. dale - Jul 6, 2010 at 9:55 PM

    Trade him. Does anyone think he will mirror the first half of this season again, which will probably be the best half season of his career?If Rizzo can not get a good deal on him then the market has spoken.

  44. Cwj - Jul 6, 2010 at 9:56 PM

    I'm not against a trade of Capps. But trading Clippard and even thinking about Storen would be one of the stupidest things the Nats could do. They drafted Storen to be their future closer. Clippard is a top level setup man who should stick around for a while.

  45. Anonymous - Jul 6, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    >>>If Rizzo can not get a good deal on him then the market has spoken.<<<The problem is that you seldom get "good deals". You usually get someone who'll never prominently contribute to a major league roster.

  46. Anonymous - Jul 7, 2010 at 1:00 AM

    Absolutely. What's George Sherrill up to lately? Oh yeah, zero saves. 2009 All-Star.Trade Capps now.

  47. tappy - Jul 7, 2010 at 2:38 AM

    Yeah, difficult decision, but he just doesn't seem as good as his stats.

  48. Cwj - Jul 7, 2010 at 5:11 AM

    Capps gives up lots of hits but can succeed because of his excellent control. He has walked a total of 7 in 37.2 innings, and 3 (!) of those were intentional.

  49. URban@DC - Jul 7, 2010 at 5:27 AM

    Dmitri Young was arrested (drug charges) and,reportedly, released on a $100 bond Monday (USA Today).

  50. Anonymous - Jul 7, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    I wouldn't trade Capps for prospects, unless they're gold-plated ones. But Capps and Maxwell for a solid ML 2B? In a second!

  51. Anonymous - Jul 8, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    One time Matt Capps gave me a ride back to my apartment from the ball park. Really nice guy. We should hang on to him!

  52. Anonymous - Jul 8, 2010 at 2:48 AM

    Trade Capps? Never gonna happen. Chad Finn at Boston.com lists Capps as an option for the Sox. But who would the Nats get in return? And that's from a team that's in the hunt and needs bullpen help badly.

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