I wrote about how I felt it was a mistake to non-tender Matt Capps the other day, but there has been something that has bugged me about the whole situation since I wrote that. The more I think about it, the Pirates had no reason to non-tender Capps.
The Pirates mentioned that they were trying to trade Capps, and had a few teams interested. However, Neal Huntington mentioned that all trade value went out the window when a rumor broke out that they would possibly non-tender Capps. This seems like a weak logic to me. It’s not weak in the sense that the Pirates might have been blaming the Post-Gazette for publishing the report. That issue has been cleared up, and the Pirates were upset that the report was leaked in the first place. I find the logic weak because there really shouldn’t be an issue of non-tendering Capps.
I think it’s obvious that teams were interested based on the amount of teams that have expressed interest in Capps now that he’s a free agent. I can see the logic behind the “his value dropped when the non-tender report came out”. The logic states that the interested teams wouldn’t give up anything if they could get Capps for free as a free agent. But what happens if the Pirates do tender an offer? Nothing really changes.
The teams who were interested before would still be interested, because there would be no reason to drop their interest. Capps’ value didn’t take any hit, as any team who would have traded for him last week would have had to tender him a contract. No financial figures have to be exchanged until early January, which means a team wouldn’t be stuck with an offer the Pirates made. The only thing you do is remove the idea that Capps could be had for free by waiting a week for the Pirates to non-tender him. It’s kind of like the situation in Toronto with Jeremy Accardo. The Blue Jays were rumored to possibly non-tender Accardo, decided to hold on to him, and now they can still work out a trade with Accardo involved.
There is a risk involved here that the Pirates end up being stuck with Capps if they can’t reach a deal. The Pirates reportedly offered something close to the $2.42 M Capps made in 2009. Capps’ agent claims they would have submitted a $3.4 M deal. That means the difference would have been less than a million dollars for the Pirates. Considering the Pirates paid half that much to get better prospects in the Eric Hinske deal, and paid three times that much to get better prospects in the Ian Snell/Jack Wilson deal, I don’t think the risk of wasting a million dollars is a big price to pay in order to try and get any prospects for Capps. I also don’t think there’s much risk of this scenario playing out, after seeing all of the interested teams so far.
I’ve seen the comments that suggests Capps wasn’t good enough to warrant this type of complaining. I’m not saying Capps was Jonathan Papelbon, but we’re talking about a reliever with one bad season, and who obviously has some value. The Pirates are in a rebuilding mode. They can’t afford to be giving away players who have trade value, such as Capps, even if that player isn’t the best at his position. I just can’t find a reason why the Pirates non-tendered Capps, when they could have tendered him a contract to get his trade value back, thus getting something in return for shipping him off.