Matt Capps said yesterday he had narrowed his list of finalists to the Nationals and the Cubs. Well, I’m told by sources familiar with the Cubs that Capps isn’t signing there, so it would seem only a matter of time now before he strikes a deal with the Nats.
If it does get wrapped up — and all signs are that it will — this would be a nice and important pickup for Washington. Capps would immediately become the Nats’ closer and provide the most stability this club has had at the back end of the bullpen since Chad Cordero’s shoulder was healthy in 2007.
The 26-year-old right-hander notched 66 saves over the last three seasons with the Pirates, and though he struggled in 2009 with eight losses and a 5.80 ERA, it appeared to be more of a blip than an actual sign of long-term regression. Certainly, Capps has more of a track record of success than Mike MacDougal, who did an admirable job this season but would have been hard-pressed to duplicate that performance again.
A Capps deal will likely be for one year. The Nats, I’m told, offered two years, but in this case the pitcher actually prefers a shorter deal. That’s because Capps still has two years left of arbitration-eligibility. If he puts up good numbers in 2010, he’ll stand a good chance of getting a nice raise (and maybe a long-term contract) next winter.
That’s fine with the Nats, who still look at Drew Storen as the long-term answer at closer anyways. Capps would serve as a mentor for Storen, who can spend the coming season setting him up and learning the tricks of the trade before taking over in 2011.
If the deal gets done later tonight, I’ll be sure to update everyone.