Capps non-tendered, becomes free agent

Already short on bullpen help, the Pirates are now in the market for more.

In a much surprising move, the Pirates did not tender a contract to closer Matt Capps, thereby making him a free agent and able to negotiate with any club this offseason. The Pirates also opted not to offer a contract to lefty Phil Dumatrait. Starter Zach Duke was tendered a contract, and shortstop Ronny Cedeno has already come to an agreement on a one-year deal with the club.

All teams had until 11:59 p.m. ET to tender contracts to players eligible for arbitration.

As late as Wednesday, general manager Neal Huntington said that the Pirates’ plans were to offer Capps a contract for next year. And on that same day in a session with reporters at the Winter Meetings, manager John Russell emphasized that despite Capps’ struggles last season, the righty would come into 2010 as the team’s closer once again.

Ultimately, however, the Pirates were concerned that Capps’ price tag for 2010 could be too high a cost to pay for a reliever that digressed significantly last year.

In the final year of a two-year contract that bought out his first year of arbitration eligibility, Capps went 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA. He record 27 saves, but he also blew five in addition to those eight losses. Had the Pirates tendered Capps a contract, he would have been due a raise on the $2.3 million he made in 2009.

“We attempted to reach agreement with both Matt and Phil prior to the deadline,” Huntington said. “Each player preferred to explore free agency. We have not closed any doors but will begin immediately to explore other opportunities to improve our bullpen.”

While Capps can still choose to negotiate with the Pirates, it’s most likely that his career in Pittsburgh is now over. Despite his struggles last season, multiple teams have shown interest in the 25-year-old right-hander, believing that he can bounce back and be a successful pitcher in the back end of a bullpen again.

In the meantime, the Pirates now have even more work to do to construct a bullpen that had already lost Jesse Chavez in an offseason trade. One thing the Pirates do seem confident in, though, is that their next closer could come in-house, as both Joel Hanrahan and Evan Meek are likely to garner consideration for the role.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

3 Comments

I liked when Matt would first shave his head because when he took his hat off, you could still see the razor marks……………. I think after losing around 10+ games, by himself, with this team last year, he maybe needed a change and for around 2.5 mill next season, Neal had to make a decision. I think it was THE RIGHT MOVE.

I just saw the other day that J Chavez got traded to Atlanta for R Soriano, now why couldn’t we have traded Matt Capps for AKI and kept Chavez, or maybe Neal was thinking Matt wouldn’t file, but that would have been a big gamble………… I’m not sure where this is all going, but I have to have faith. As a Pittsburgher, that still lives in Pittsburgh and still goes to games. I have to believe that Neal knows what he’s doing or I will continue to be that bitter bad guy in the stands………….

Matt Capps is gone with nothing in return. Amazing! This situation reminds me of Aramis Ramierez going to the Cubs for next to nothing in return and I suspect for the same reason as Capps departure, saving money. When will this ownership/management team begin building a competitive team of tested, legitimate major league players, not just wildly enthusiastic, not quite fully developed minor leaguers?

Jen:
I never can understand why Neal does what he does-sheer idiocy,why not if your gonna get rid of a guy who saved 27 ballgames for you last season,try and salvage some value out of him.In the Majors as we can see,there is a need for closers.And maybe just maybe the reason his Era ballooned is not totally his fault,we have had an issue scoring runs.
Im real tired of Huntington’s excuses-I Offered to buy his plane ticket back to Cleveland and get someone who not only wants to win-but knows something about Baseball.
Also it seems to this fan,he is more interested in the Bottom line,than winning ball games,and while he should be concerned about money,our payroll,doesnt equal one year of the contract Halladay got.I think we can afford to get a player or two.We need a bonafide 1st Baseman,and Gonzalez from the Pads can be had for 4.5 mil a year,and he hits bombs and is a Gold Glover.One player isnt gonna make the difference,but we need to start somewhere.

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