RHP Capps mulls Nats, Cubs options
Ten days after reliever Matt Capps landed on the free-agent market, he's down to deciding whether he wants to be a closer for the Washington Nationals or a setup man and fallback closer candidate for the Cubs.
Agent Paul Kinzer said Tuesday that Capps plans to confer with his family and decide between competing offers from the Cubs and Nationals by Wednesday night.
"Matt is really comfortable with those two [teams] at this point,'' Kinzer said. "When it comes right down to it, he has to decide whether he's going to a place where he's definitely going to be the closer, or he's a setup man with a chance to maybe close.''
Capps, 26, amassed 66 saves from 2007 through 2009 in Pittsburgh.
But the right-hander's ERA spiked from 3.02 to 5.80 last season, and he became a free agent when the Pirates declined to offer him a contract at the Dec. 12 tender deadline. Kinzer said 16 teams expressed interest in Capps once he hit the open market.
Washington is in desperate need to upgrade a bullpen that posted a 24-39 record and ranked last in the majors with a 5.09 ERA in 2009.
Mike MacDougal, who led the Nationals with 20 saves last season, also became a free agent when the team declined to tender him a contract 10 days ago.
Kinzer credited Washington GM Mike Rizzo for an aggressive recruiting effort with Capps.
"Mike Rizzo has been great,'' Kinzer said. "When we came into this thing, they weren't even on the list, and now they're right there.''
Chicago manager Lou Piniella has anointed Carlos Marmol as the team's closer in 2010, and recently said the Cubs are "very happy with him.''
But Marmol walked 65 batters while striking out 93 in 74 innings last season, and Capps would give the Cubs closer insurance in the event Marmol gets off to a rough start next season.
"We definitely want to get something done before Christmas,'' Kinzer said. "Matt just has to see which is the best fit for him and his family and weigh all those things.''
Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN Insider.