Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who is the Twins Closer in 2012

One of the interesting stories about Terry Ryan's revival as the Twins GM was that he had called all four of the Twins free agents. Those would be Cuddyer, Kubel, Nathan and Capps. While it may be just a courtesy, it may also mean that Capps leaving is not as much a done deal as the local media seem to think. Capps lost his job as closer this summer, but that may or may not mean the Twins front office has dramatically changed its evaluation of him. They seem to have four choices for the closer position:

1) Go outside the organization. I put this up at the top because I think it is by far the least likely. They are more likely to do that in July if they are winning, but to start the season I think they will go with pitchers already in the organization.

2) Sign Joe Nathan. This is probably the most likely move with cost and years being the likely reasons he won't be back. There is one other reason, if he decides to go somewhere with a better chance at the playoffs.

3) Here is where Matt Capps fits in. The question is how much Capps can demand on the free agent market. My guess is not that much. The Twins would need to offer him $5.6 million in arbitration. He could ask for more, but he has gone from being a closer on a winning team to a setup guy on a team that lost 99 games. Its hard to argue that doesn't warrant a paycut. If the Twins can't sign Nathan, I can see them deciding a one year contract to Capps is a good alternative.

4) Glen Perkins, Jose Mijares, Carlos Gutierrez, Anthony Swarzak, Lester Oliveros ... These guys are all longshots to be effective in the closer role. Perkins obviously had a good year, but he did well a couple years ago as a starter and then couldn't follow it up.

This is the reason I think Capps remains at least a longshot. Because, absent Nathan, they are back to trying to add a closer from outside the organization. That is going to be expensive in players, dollars or both.

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