Capps close to signing; return to Pittsburgh unlikely

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Closer Matt Capps wouldn’t go so far as to say a return to Pittsburgh is out of the question, but it certainly doesn’t sound likely as the former Pirates stopper moves closer to signing a contract for 2010.

Both Capps and Pirates general manager Neal Huntington expressed a mutual interest in the 26-year-old reliever returning next season despite the Pirates’ decision not to offer him a contract prior to the non-tender deadline. The caveat in that mutual interest, however, remains the money.

Pittsburgh’s decision to let Capps become a free agent 10 days ago was dictated by the organization’s unwillingness to potentially pay Capps the salary that he was seeking, which was substantially more than the $2.4 million he made in 2009.

At least one team has offered more to Capps than the Pirates initially did, meaning that Pittsburgh would seemingly have to increase its bid if it wanted to make a serious run at re-signing its closer. The Pirates, who firmly believe in the initial value they assigned to Capps, are unlikely to do that.

“The ball is still in their court,” Capps said. “They have to make an offer and do what they think is best. I’ve done a lot of good things for that organization and I would like to continue doing it, but unfortunately we didn’t see eye to eye on [a contract before the non-tender deadline].

“There has been a little bit of conversation back and forth,” he continued. “They have a lot more on their plate. I understand that. There has been conversation. There has been talk. I don’t know the full extent of it.”

Even so, the Pirates might be out of time. Though Capps’ agent, Paul Kinzer, was contacted by more than a dozen teams shortly after Capps became a free agent, that list has been whittled down to two, according to Kinzer. The agent told MLB.com that Capps will sign with either the Nationals or Cubs by the end of the day on Wednesday.

When asked if that was a firm deadline, Capps remained a bit more non-committal.

“We are just waiting to hear a few more offers,” Capps said. “We want to feel out the other interest that is out there. I’m not in a hurry to get something done, but in the same respect, I don’t want this going into January or February. We’ve kind of narrowed it down to the teams that are the most interested and hope to have something settled soon.”

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

1 Comment

I enjoy your reporting Jenifer, keep up the good work. However, the Matt Capps situation reminds me of the fact that the current Pirates management with their inactivity of late leaves our stove rather cold. We have no hot stove.

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