To Trade Or Not To Trade: Chris Capuano

By Unknown author

Despite talks earlier in the season of a firesale, recent reports indicate that the Mets are unlikely to move anyone on their team by this week’s trading deadline, with the exception of Carlos Beltran (and possibly Tim Byrdak).  This news came as a little surprising, since the Mets have a few parts which could be useful to other teams, such as Jason Isringhausen and Ronny Paulino.  However, it’s unlikely that Sandy Alderson would receive enough in return to justify trading players like these, and he has opted to hold onto them instead.  One player, however, who I’m surprised Alderson isn’t looking to deal is Chris Capuano.

The Mets inked Capuano to a one year, $1.5 million contract last January in a typical low-risk, high-reward signing (he can also earn incentives based on starts and innings pitched).  Capuano was coming off multiple Tommy John surgeries and prior to the 66 innings he pitched with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010, hadn’t appeared in a Major League game since 2007.  The Mets hoped that the lefty would stay healthy and give the Mets quality innings, either as a starter or a reliever, and so far Capuano has done just that.

In 116.1 innings this season (19 starts, 2 relief appearances), Capuano has posted a 4.26 ERA (3.74 xFIP), 1.350 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 and 2.80 K/BB, all very respectable numbers.  He’s achieved a ground ball rate of 44% and gone at least six innings in fourteen of his nineteen starts.  He doesn’t have top the rotation stuff, but makes for a solid four or five starter; that combined with the fact that he’s cheap and a lefty only under contract for this season would make him an appealing candidate to be traded.  And yet the Mets have seemingly no inclination to do so.  The question is: why?

A possible reason is that the front office doesn’t want to give off the appearance of a firesale to the fanbase, but Alderson and company aren’t the types to keep a player around if they could otherwise receive value for him.  So odds are, the Mets are interested in resigning the southpaw for at least another season at a similar or slightly increased price.  The Mets could also hope that Capuano becomes a Type-B free agent, which would net the team a supplementary draft pick should Capuano signed elsewhere, but as of July 19th, Capuano hasn’t reached that status.

So it seems the Mets want Capuano to stick around, most likely as a starter, since he’s proven he can handle the workload.  He is a good fit at the end of the rotation, one which should be much stronger next season with the return of Johan Santana, but if the Mets do keep the lefty around, they will have a decision to make.  Assuming that Santana, Niese and Dickey are locked into the 2012 rotation, that leaves two slots for Capuano, Dillon Gee and Mike Pelfrey.  Keeping Capuano around would be a cheaper option that retaining Pelfrey, if that’s what the organization is thinking, and the savings could be worth more than the random minor leaguer the Mets would receive by dealing Cap.  So ultimately, keeping the southpaw might make sense as the team starts to look toward 2012