As soon as the Pirates non-tendered Matt Capps, 14-16 teams expressed interest in the Pirates former closer. When the Pirates tried to move Capps at the winter meetings there was no interest because teams knew that the Pirates were going to release him.
Media leaks during the winter meetings played no factor in teams shying away from Capps. Whoever states that is just trying to make their ego bigger.
The reason Capps drew no interest at the winter meetings was because of a flurry of talk from league executives that the Pirates were going to release Capps.
That talk started on Monday December 7th and the rest of the week, the Pirates didn’t receive any serious calls about Capps.
Meanwhile, Pirates general manager Neal Huntington is taking a lot of heat for letting Capps walk for nothing. Where Huntington should be faulted is not moving Capps at last July’s trade deadline when 3-to-4 contenders were looking at him in a set-up role.
The Pirates knew regardless of how Capps finished the season, he was going to get a raise in the $3.5-$4 million range. Some believe Pirates brass made up their minds before the end of the season that they were going to let Capps walk if they couldn’t move him or avoid arbitration and sign him to their price.
Over the weekend he trimmed his list to 5-6 teams. A source close to Capps indicates the Washington Nationals are the front runners to sign him at this point.
The Nationals have offered a two offer worth close to $3.5 million per season. The Tigers, Rockies and Cubs have also made multi-year offers. Florida is another team that remains in the mix along with Arizona.
Johnson’s asking price higher than the Pirates willing to go?
Management has expressed significant interest in former Atlanta Braves 2b/OF Kelly Johnson for the past couple seasons and immediately after Johnson was non-tendered, the Pirates have been in on the 27 year old second baseman/outfielder.
However, the Pirates have yet to make a formal offer. Arizona and an unknown team have made one year offers in the $2 million range. Johnson’s camp is waiting for the Pirates to make an offer before furthering talks with other teams.
One league source said Neal Huntington’s desire to bargain basement hunt could backfire on him and the Pirates could come up empty on all of their key targets.
The team has yet to hold any kind of serious talks with Rick Ankiel,
Xavier Nady or Hank Blalock. In fact, Blalock is no longer on the Pirates radar.
Nady is open to returning to Pittsburgh and is seeking an incentive laden deal with executives speculating he will get a base salary in the $2-$2.5 million range.
One source told me the Pirates could land Nady now at a reasonable price is they chose to move on him. They won’t and Rick Ankiel has his sights set on joining the Chicago Cubs.
At some point the Pirates are going to have to make a move on one of their targets. They made the mistake last season in trying to wait until the last second to sign a Joe Beimel or Will Ohman at the cheapest rate that they could.