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Free Agent Profile: Chris Capuano

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Chris Capuano seems like a perfect fit for the Mariners this year, just like could have been last year.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

One name that has been discussed most frequently as a desirable Mariners' acquisition is Chris Capuano. This discussion goes back to last year, when he was endorsed by the staff here at Lookout Landing and when the Mariners were rumored to be connected with Capuano in February. While that signing didn't come to pass last year, Capuano is a free agent again this year and looks like a good fit for the Mariners again.

You can never have enough starting pitching -- between injuries and ineffectiveness, it seems like major league baseball teams are always scrambling to find starters who can fill the back end of their rotations. The Mariners were pretty lucky to get over 325 innings from Chris Young and Roenis Elias in 2014 when neither of them were on our radar heading into the season. It would be foolish to pencil in our five starters for a full season's workload in 2015, so where is the depth going to come from?

The Profile

Chris Capuano just turned 36 and will be entering his eleventh season in the majors next year. He's a lefty who was drafted by the Diamondbacks and has spent time with the Brewers (Jack Z connection), the Mets, the Dodgers and split time in 2014 between the Red Sox and the Yankees. The survivor of two Tommy John surgeries, Capuano has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen the last few years. He's been effective in both roles -- his FIP as a starter over the last four years: 3.91; and as a reliever: 3.68.

Chris Capuano (2014; 12 starts, 28 relief appearances)

IP

K%

BB%

HR/FB%

GB%

ERA

FIP

97 1/3

19.6%

7.9%

9.75

39.5%

4.35

3.91

Pitches

Four-seam

Sinker

Slider

Curveball

Changeup

89.3 mph;

0.1%

89.3 mph;

43.6%

81.2 mph;

20.4%

75.0 mph;

7.4%

77.9 mph;

27.9%

Over the past few years, Capuano has moved away from his four-seam fastball in favor of a sinker that doesn't generate as many groundballs as you would think. Safeco Field should alleviate some of his fly ball tendencies as he's been hurt by the home run as much as you might expect from someone with his batted ball profile.  His best pitch is his changeup which, when paired with his curveball and slider, allows him to be effective against righties and lefties.

The Projection

Steamer doesn't have a full projection built for Capuano yet. Since playing time projections are tied to FanGraph's depth charts, Steamer is projecting just a single inning of work from Capuano next year (the default minimum innings pitched). The projections for all of his rate stats are built and they call for a FIP of 4.13 with a strikeout rate and walk rate that fall in line with his rates from the past few years. He's averaged 1.475 WAR over the last four years and I'd be comfortable penciling him in for around 1.0 WAR in 2015.

The Cost

The Red Sox signed Capuano to a one-year contract worth $2.2M and included a number of incentives that could have raised the value to around $5M if he hit all of them. The bidding will probably start in this vicinity this year as well. There's a possibility Capuano could ask for a two-year agreement that would take him right to retirement but I'd guess he'll settle for year-to-year contracts until he's done. My guess is a $2.5M contract with incentives built in for innings pitched that could raise the value to $5M.

The Fit

Like I said above, you can never have too much pitching. The Mariners need depth and Capuano seems like a good fit as either the #5 man in the rotation or the long man/spot starter out of the bullpen.

Right now, the Mariners' rotation has three spots guaranteed to Felix, Iwakuma, and Paxton while the other two are up for grabs. There are certainly internal candidates available to fill these two spots (Walker and Elias) but Jack Zduriencik has shown a tendency to fill the back end of the rotation with veteran starters (Chris Young, Aaron Harang, Kevin Millwood, etc.). Capuano fits this profile perfectly.

If the Mariners end up trading for another starter or signing one of the many mid-tier starters on the market, Capuano could also fit as the long man and rotation depth in our bullpen. With Joe Beimel out of the picture for now, the Mariners have only one feasible lefty in the pen, Charlie Furbush. Capuano could serve well in Beimel's role and would take over spot starting duties from Tom Wilhelmsen, a role he shouldn't have next year.

Signing Chris Capuano might seem boring in an offseason where everyone is expecting a number of big impact acquisitions. I'd argue that his flexibility and the depth he provides could go a long way towards pushing the Mariners over the hump. This isn't something the Mariners should be waiting on to see how the market shakes out. Signing Chris Capuano doesn't block any of the impact moves the front office might be considering. Let's get this done, Mariners.