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Washington Nationals: Will Matt Capps Follow Pudge?

Citing's Bill Ladson's Twitter message from Thursday about the Nationals being finalists for free agent reliever Matt Capps, Eli Greenspan of the SB Nation's MLB Daily Dish wrote this morning, in an article entitled, "Nationals, Cubs, Rockies finalists for Capps", that the field for the free agent reliever had been narrowed down to just the three teams in the title, while noting that the Nationals offer Capps the clearest path to the closer job he covets, while in Colorado and Chicago, "...he would have to compete for the closer role and would likely end up being (either) team's set up man." 

As soon as the news that Pittsburgh had non-tendered the 26-year-old right-hander broke last Saturday, Capps' agent Paul Kinzer made it known that his client had interest in joining the Cubs, and Chicago Breaking writer Paul Sullivan reported in an article entitled, "Cubs show interest in released closer Capps", that a mutual interest existed between the two parties, though he noted that the, "...Cubs aren't looking for a closer," since they already have Carlos Marmol,"...but Capps could fill a void in late-inning relief, joining Angel Guzman as a right-handed set-up man."

Denver Post reporter Patrick Saunders spoke directly to Colorado Rockies' GM Dan O'Dowd for an article last Tuesday entitled, "Time running out for Torrealba, Rox like Capps", wherein Mr. Saunders quoted the Rockies' GM stating that Colorado was "absolutely interested" in acquiring Capps who'd be reunited with former Pirates and current Rockies' Manager Jim Tracy. But in Denver too, he'd be competing for the closer's role with Huston Street, with whom, "...the Rockies have been pursuing a long-term deal," according to Mr. Saunders, but since there are," guarantees it will get done. That could make Capps a valuable addition."

Capps himself told's Bill Ladson yesterday in an article entitled, "Nationals a finalist to acquire Capps", that he was interested in what was going on in Washington, citing the two-year deal the Nationals gave future HOF catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, which Capps believes, "...shows the direction the Nationals are trying to go,":

"'They signed him to a two-year deal - it's just not a fill-in. It shows that they are investing in the future. They want to do what's right, and they want to win.'"

When asked by Mr. Ladson, (who believes Capps would be competing with Brian Bruney for the closer's role in DC), (ed. note - "What, no Storen?"), if he would accept a late-inning relief role if he was to sign with Washington, Capps' response was pretty much what you'd expect:

"'If it's better suited for me to set up for the team in the seventh inning or eighth inning, that's what I'll do,' Capps said. 'If they sign me and tell me they want me to play shortstop, I'll play shortstop. I want to win. I want to be in an environment [where winning is important]. All signs are looking good with what they are trying to do so far.'"

I think he's kidding about playing shortstop...though that could solve two problems...But it's interesting that the only team Capps mentioned in the news yesterday was the Nationals...Was Capps letting the other teams know that they'd have to step up their offers if they wanted to keep him from signing with Washington? Or is the fifth-year pro impressed enough with what Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo is building that he's seriously considering a move to DC?

LATE UPDATE:'s Ken Rosenthal sent out a Twitter message while I wrote this which read:

"Angels looking for relievers as well as starters. Matt Capps high on their list."

So the Cubs, Rockies, Nationals and Angels...Does DC stand a chance?

• Bill James Pitcher Projections:

(RHP) Matt Capps --

2009 Projections: 41 G, 47.0 IP, (3-2), 3.20 ERA, 29 Saves, 6 BB (1.1 BB/9), 36 K's (6.8 K/9), 5 HR's (0.96 HR/9).

2009 Stats: 57 G, 54.1 IP, (4-8), 5.80 ERA (4.90 FIP), 27 Saves, 17 BB (2.82 BB/9), 46 K's, (7.62 K/9), 10 HR's, (1.66  HR/9).

2010 Projections: 55 G, 57.0 IP, (3-3), 3.47 ERA (3.80 FIP), 30 Saves, 11 BB, (1.74 BB/9), 45 K's (7.11 K/9), 7 HR's, (1.11 HR/9).