It’s just been reported that the Twins have acquired Nationals’ closer Matt Capps for AAA catcher Wilson Ramos and LHP Joe Testa. It’s a solid win-now move for the Twins.
Capps hasn’t really pitched all that great for a closer (2.80 ERA) but he’s certainly been good, and the odds are strong he’ll strengthen the Twins bullpen considerably for the last two months of this season. Capps throws strikes, which the Twins highly value, and American League hitters have seen very little of him to date, which favors Capps.
Ramos is a highly regarded prospect, but he’s definitely no sure thing. He’s been hitting better of late at AAA Rochester, but he’s still got only a .241 batting average and a .625 OPS for the season. Meanwhile, Capps has one more year of control before he becomes a free agent, and the Twins could possibly get a draft pick or two then, if he continues to pitch well and they offer him arbitration.
The second prospect, Joe Testa, is a small 24 year old left-hander who is currently getting hit hard (8.25 ERA) at AA New Britain. Like a lot of trade throw-ins, he’s got a good arm, but he’s getting a little old to be struggling out of the bullpen at the AA level.
The Twins look like a better team than the White Sox on paper, and the move will certainly give the Twins a shot in the arm as they try to make the post-season in the first year of their new ballpark.
A number of other trades were announced today, the most significant obviously being the Phillies’ acquisition of Roy Oswalt. One thing seems obvious, however — except for the Cliff Lee trade, it’s definitely a buyers’ market this year.
Ultimately, Oswalt only required the Phils to add $1 million to his 2o12 buy-out, rather than requiring them to exercise the option now. Also, the Astros sent east $11 million toward Oswalt’s future contract obligations. Even so, the ‘Stros didn’t get a whole lot in return.
J. A. Happ had a fine rookie year last year, but he’s been injured most of this season, and he turns 28 in October. He’s under team control another four years after this one, but something about Happ strikes me there’s a good chance he’ll blow out his arm some time in the next couple of seasons.
The two minor leaguers the Astros got have tools, but otherwise don’t really impress me. In fact, the ‘Stros immediately flipped 19 year old centerfielder Anthony Gose to the Blue Jays for 23 year old 1Bman Brett Wallace.
Gose has great speed and some obvious talent, but he isn’t much of a baseball player yet. He’s stolen 36 bases at Class A+ Clearwater, but he’s been thrown out 27 times, an awful 57% success rate. He’d be better off just keeping still at that rate, and it’s only going to get harder to steal bases as he advances to the high minors, let alone the major leagues.
Actually, Brett Wallace sort of has the same problem. He was the 11th player selected in the 2008 Draft, a great Draft for college hitters, but he’s now with his fourth major league organization (Cardinals, A’s, Blue Jays and now Astros) in two years. He hasn’t developed as a hitter as fast as hoped, and he’s proven that his defense probably isn’t good enough to play anywhere but first, which means he has to hit.
Wallace currently has an .868 OPS at AAA Las Vegas, which is pretty good, but not good enough to play first base at the major league level. He turns 24 in late August.
Other examples of a buyers’ market: the Orioles sending Miguel Tejada and $1.1 million to the Padres for 24 year old RHP Wynn Pelzer, who has a 4.20 ERA as a starter at AA San Antonio with generally unimpressive ratios. Meanwhile, the Marlins sent Jorge Cantu and $600,000 to the Rangers for two AA pitchers, one of whom hasn’t pitched at all this year because he’s recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Sure, the Orioles and Marlins are saving some money they otherwise would have had to pay out in salary to Tejada and Cantu between now and the end of the season, but even so, they sure didn’t get much in return.