Closer released by Pirates hears from Phillies, Cubs, Yankees, others
December 15, 2009 5:00 AM
Pitcher Matt Capps on being a free agent, "Whatever happens, I'll keep the Pirates in my thoughts, and I'm not closing the door on them or anybody else."
By Dejan Kovacevic Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Pirates evidently did not feel closer Matt Capps' asking price was fair market value, but the market itself -- as set by the entirety of Major League Baseball -- might disagree.
Since Capps' surprising release Saturday that suddenly cast him into free agency, no fewer than a dozen suitors have made contact with his agent, Paul Kinzer, including the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kinzer called the interest "enormous," and was emboldened enough to have told suitors Capps would prefer a multiyear deal and that having a chance to close will play "a major role" in his decision. Kinzer and the Pirates had discussed only a one-year term.
Capps, who tends not to get involved in matters handled by his agent, expressed some satisfaction at the field.
"Seems like I keep getting a new text about another team all the time," Capps said yesterday. "Whatever happens, I'll keep the Pirates in my thoughts, and I'm not closing the door on them or anybody else. But I'm going to do what's best for my family and my career, and it's nice to know there are a lot of teams asking."
Capps, 26, was the Pirates' closer for most of the past three seasons and, until a 5.80 ERA in 2009, was an effective one.
"I've been a closer, and I'd like to be that again," Capps said. "But I'm always willing to prove myself if I have to. I have a lot of faith in my ability."
The Pirates balked at paying Capps much more than the $2.425 million he made last season and declined to tender him an offer toward salary arbitration just before the midnight Saturday deadline. It is believed that Capps' asking price was in the range of $3.4 million.
The Pirates received no return for Capps, the first such event involving a significant player in general manager Neal Huntington's tenure.
Huntington and Capps have said they would be interested in his return to Pittsburgh if Capps could not find a suitor elsewhere, but the field already is such that Capps appears headed elsewhere. Teams are aware of the numbers discussed by the Pirates and Capps and probably would not call to express interest without being willing to pay at least that much.
Also yesterday, the agent for reliever Phil Dumatrait -- released by the Pirates on the same night as Capps -- said that his client was cut not only to clear a 40-man roster spot but also because of a dispute over how much Dumatrait would get paid for time in the minor leagues.
The team had offered Dumatrait a guaranteed minor league wage lower than what he could have made if he stayed on the 40-man roster and made the team out of spring training, agent Paul Cobbe said. Dumatrait balked, preferring to take a chance that he would make the team, as the Pirates are almost completely bereft of left-handed relievers.
Minor league salaries seldom are more than $100,000.
"Management did not want to risk the money associated with Phil in the minor leagues," Cobbe said. "He really likes Pittsburgh. He just did not want to agree to take himself off the roster. Too bad that this is all over minor league salary."
Dumatrait, 28, had a 6.92 ERA in 15 appearances after missing more than a year to shoulder surgery.
NOTES -- The Pirates are known to have contacted several free-agent left-handers, including Joe Beimel, formerly of the Pirates and Duquesne University. But the interest is thought to be mild. ... Huntington said that Capps' release does not mean he will reinvest all of the savings in one reliever. The team has no design on pursuing any of the big-name relievers, such as Mike Gonzalez. ... The Pirates hired three scouts: Larry Broadway, an outfielder in their system this past season, was hired as an area supervisor, as were Rolando Pino and Anthony Wycklendt.