Chris Capuano was recently tied to the Orioles in a report that also named Joe Saunders as a potential O’s target. Saunders is a familiar name to O’s fans, though Capuano may not be. He’s a veteran starting pitcher with a four pitch mix, who has spent his entire career pitching in the National League.
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Capuano is not going to be an ace of any staff. He’s not even likely to be a number two or three. What he can be is a solid number four guy with number three upside. That’s ok, not everyone has to be an ace in waiting. There’s value in being a middle of the rotation arm. Ask Jeremy Guthrie.
Capuano threw just 105.2 innings last season for the Dodgers, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his injury issues. Last season Capuano had injuries over the course of his season to his calf, lat, and groin. These are not the only issues Capuano has endured over his career; the guy has had two Tommy John surgeries and a myriad of shoulder issues. In this way he’s as unlikely an Oriole target as you can find.
What he does do however, is pitch effectively. Capuano’s FIP last season was 3.55, a full run lower than the O’s team mark. While his ERA didn’t reflect it, Capuano managed to limit walks while still striking out batters and keep the ball on the ground. His performance last season wasn’t really fluke-ish either, as he posted a 3.95 FIP (3.72 ERA) in 2012 over nearly 200 innings for the Dodgers.
It’s unlikely that Capuano can pitch quite that well in Baltimore, what with the more potent offenses and DH and what not. He does have that upside though, and for what will likely end up being a small contract he could be a steal. Especially with teams paying $11MM a year for guys like Bronson Arroyo, someone whose value isn’t tied to upside but rather consistency.
Capuano was said to have been looking for a two year deal, but that was over a month ago. By now it’s likely that he’d accept a one year, or even one year + option deal in order to sign with a major league club. After all, he’s 35 years old, and isn’t likely looking to hit the free agent market and make a big splash at 37. If Capuano can be had for a one year, $3.5 million deal, perhaps with a club option and $250K buyout; the Orioles would have to strongly consider bringing him into the fold.
At worst he provides some stability and a veteran presence at the back end of the rotation. At best he could prove to be a top 3 guy for this team, providing more depth in the rotation than the cannon fodder the club was forced to trot out in the 5th starter spot last season.
Jeff was the owner of the Orioles blog Warehouse Worthy, which focused on making advanced statistics a part of the conversation for the average fan. Outside of baseball, Jeff is a graduate of Loyola University where he received his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Business Administration. The Maryland native currently works for an Advertising Agency in downtown Baltimore. Previously a contributor to Beyond the Boxscore, he joined Baseball Prospectus in September 2014. You can reach him at [email protected]