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After letting half the bullpen walk as free agents, Twins give $7.15 million to Matt Capps

Jan 18, 2011, 1:48 PM EDT

Matt Capps, Joe Mauer

The offseason bullpen exodus in Minnesota is now complete, as Jon Rauch signed with the Blue Jays and Brian Fuentes signed with the A’s.

They join Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain in leaving the Twins after that quartet combined to throw 45 percent of the team’s relief innings last season while posting a 2.98 ERA. The rest of the Twins’ bullpen had a 3.90 ERA.

Here are the contracts each reliever got on the open market:

- Crain: $13 million for three years from the White Sox

- Guerrier: $12 million for three years from the Dodgers

- Fuentes: $10 million for two years from the A’s

- Rauch: $3.75 million for one year from the Blue Jays (with a $3.75 team option for 2012)

It’s tough to blame the Twins for failing to bring Crain, Guerrier, Fuentes, and Rauch back at those prices, but it would’ve been nice to get more than one draft pick as compensation for letting all four guys leave as free agents.

It’s also worth noting that they just avoided arbitration with Matt Capps by signing him to a one-year, $7.15 million deal. Not only is he making more than any of the four departing relievers in 2011, the Twins traded one of their top prospects in Wilson Ramos for the right to significantly overpay him.

  1. BC - Jan 18, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    $7mil to Matt Capps? Yikes!
    They better hope Nathan comes back healthy this year.

  2. Jeremiah Graves - Jan 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Excellent!!

    There is nothing like overpaying for a guy who–if all goes well–will be setting up for Nathan by late-Spring.

    Guys like Capps and Dotel and that ilk always drive me crazy. They’re only “closers” because once upon a time some team–generally a team with limited financial resources and options–put ‘em in that role.

    Whether they were dominate or not, they were “closers” from that day forward. It boggles the mind. There is one legitimate closer in baseball. His name is Mariano Rivera.

    After that there is/was a second-tier that had guys like Joe Nathan, Jonathon Papelbon, Brian Wilson, Joakim Soria, etc…

    After that it’s all white noise.

    • BC - Jan 18, 2011 at 2:29 PM

      Well, Heath Bell and Rafael Soriano are both studs as well. Beyond that, yeah, there’s a dropoff.

    • Kanonen80 - Jan 18, 2011 at 2:32 PM

      You could argue that from 2004 until his elbow gave out, Nathan was right up there with Mo:
      2004-2009 [ERA+ | Saves]
      Rivera: [236 | 243]
      Nathan: [237 | 246]

      Which to me, makes the Twins 2010 impressive. They basically lost “Mariano Rivera” for the season, and then Morneau for the second half of the season and still won 90+ games. That would be like the Yankees losing the real Mo, and Cano for half the season.

  3. AK47 - Jan 18, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    This is a case of Bill Smith (or other Twins front office staff) not wanting to admit they made a mistake. The Twins didn’t need Capps in the first place when they traded away from of their top prospects for him last year. Now they overpay the guy during an off-season in which they want us fans to think they are budget-strapped?? Give me a break, what a terrible move.

    • ThatGuy - Jan 18, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      What if anything the twins said this offseason has indicated they want the fans to think they are budget strapped? The few interviews I have heard Bill Smith give have said he expects the payroll to increase this offseason and next, they went from 60 million a couple years ago to 100+ million now. They have not been crying poor thats for sure.

      • AK47 - Jan 18, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        Um, letting a well-liked and above-average SS walk and watching half the bullpen shack up with other clubs?? I mean I think that sends a pretty clear message. The team, as it was, won 90+ games last year and while a couple of the contracts that our free-agent relievers signed are ridic, they could have equaled a couple of them if money was no issue.

        Also, saying they went from $60M to $100M in a couple of years without mentioning the new ballpark is irresponsible. The fact is, they increased the payroll in response to the park so that “increase” has already been factored in, I doubt they will raise payroll that much from 2010 to 2011 and I don’t know what interviews you’ve been reading/watching but the Twins have said they don’t expect a very meaningful payroll increase, maybe $5-10M more than last season.

      • AK47 - Jan 18, 2011 at 4:42 PM

        sorry, “walked” is probably not accurate, but like JG said, they could have easily kept Hardy and let Capps go. On top of that, they had to do something very uncharacteristic in going after Niskioka when they could have used that money to re-sign a couple of the free-agent relievers. Had they followed that blueprint, the situation would look a lot better right about now.

    • BC - Jan 18, 2011 at 4:32 PM

      Either that, or Nathan is not going to be ready for the first half of the season. In which case, it ain’t a bad signing.

  4. Jeremiah Graves - Jan 18, 2011 at 3:58 PM

    What bugs me is that we kept Capps and let Hardy go for guys who may or may not have an impact next year.

    I like Casilla and I’m interested to see what Nishioka brings to the table, but I’ve still gotta think I’d rather have Hardy and Nishioka up the middle with Casilla rather than Tolbert (or whomever) as our super utility guy.

    Ugh…

    This offseason hasn’t left me feeling nearly as stoked as last year, especially given the moves the Sox and Tigers have made.

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