July 22, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Seattle Mariners catcher Miguel Olivo (30) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Seattle Mariners defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Will Mets Pursue Matt Capps or Miguel Olivo?

MLB Trade Rumors broke two news stories yesterday that should have gotten the attention of us Mets fans; one, the Twins decided to decline the 2013 team option they had on reliever Matt Capps, while the Mariners decided to cut the cord with Miguel Olivo. Both of these names had been linked to the Mets at one point or another before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, but no moves were made. Now that they’re free men, what are the chances of Sandy Alderson bring one (or both, I suppose) to Citi Field for 2013?

Capps, who was acquired by Minnesota back in 2010 in a trade that yielded the Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, made $4.75 million this past season after signing a deal last winter with the Twins. If the organization decided to pick up his option, it would have been for $6 million, but the reliever will receive a $250K buyout instead. Capps did perform well, but it was just a matter of him staying on the field. The Twins were hoping he’d take Joe Nathan‘s place as the team’s closer, which he was able to do successfully, as he put together a 1-4 record with a 3.68 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, while converting 14 of 15 save opportunities. However, he missed most of the second half with rotator cuff inflammation, not only limiting him to 30 appearances and 29.1 innings pitched, but also hurt his tradeability for a team that was dead last in the AL Central for the second consecutive year.

Now, without thinking about whether or not New York could afford Capps, would there be a spot for him in the bullpen in 2013? As of right now, it’s anticipated that Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez will be walking away as free agents, while Justin Hampson has also decided to test free agency. There is still a chance that Manny Acosta will be non-tendered, leaving the definite bullpen next year for New York (barring any trades) to include Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell, and Josh Edgin. Adam Rubin said on twitter earlier this week that he thinks either Jenrry Mejia or Jeurys Familia will be relieving for the Amazins on Opening Day, but not both. Alderson has also expressed interest in bringing in a veteran lefty to compliment Edgin, pushing Robert Carson back to Triple-A. With Elvin Ramirez‘s role for 2013 to be determined, there could be two to three spots in the ‘pen  to fill.

Even though I’m sure Alderson would be interested in his services, I don’t anticipate this being a fit. Coming off making close to $5 million in 2012, Capps and his agent, Paul Kinzer, will be looking for similar compensation. Also, with 138 career saves and 281 games finished, it wouldn’t be surprising if he would prefer a definite closing job over any other offer. We heard rumblings that New York may want to try and bring someone else in to displace Francisco as closer next year, I doubt that will come to fruition. So, I think we can dream about this one, and just leave it at that.

On the other hand, the news about Miguel Olivo perked me up, as I think he’d be a more realistic target for the Mets this winter. Olivo finished a two-year/$7 million contract he signed with the Mariners, who decided to pay his $750K buyout instead of picking up his $3 million option. With Jose Montero waiting in the wings to be their full-time catcher, this isn’t surprising. In 2012, the backstop hit .222/.239/.381 with 12 homers and 29 RBI in 315 at-bats.

At 34 years of age, he could be attractive to the Mets because he wouldn’t be commanding a high salary, would be a defensive upgrade to both Josh Thole and Kelly Shoppach (threw out 31% of would-be base stealers in ’12), and could provide some pop from the right hand side. Although his power numbers are higher against right-handers (89 HR, 320 RBI vs. RHP, 52 HR 159 RBI vs. LHP), it’s because he’s had almost 1,500 less at-bats against southpaws, but has hit .270/.303/.477 against them throughout his career (.229/.264/.392 vs. RHP).

So, out of these two, newly available players, Olivo would be a better fit and should be pursued more aggressively by Alderson; he’ll be in the right price range for the Mets, and will be able to fill the right-handed catcher with some power void on New York’s roster. He’s a veteran that can give Thole and a young pitching staff some guidance, and has significant experience as a starter.

Do you think the Mets will go after either Matt Capps or Miguel Olivo?

Tags: Matt Capps Miguel Olivo New York Mets

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