Marlins land power arm in deal for Capps
With slugger Jones in fold, Miami able to trade LoMo to Seattle
MIAMI -- When the Marlins identified Carter Capps as a reliever worth acquiring, team officials focused on his triple-digit fastball and pure talent over an inflated ERA.
Once Miami discovered Capps was available, the club moved quickly to consummate a deal with the Mariners.
On Friday, the Marlins formally announced the trade that was agreed upon two days earlier at the Winter Meetings at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort: The Marlins obtained Capps from the Mariners for first baseman Logan Morrison.
The move is mildly surprising because the Marlins headed into the offseason searching for additional offense.
Morrison was once one of the game's highest-ranked prospects, but he's missed substantial time the past few seasons due to two surgeries to his right knee. Morrison now is healthy for the first time heading into Spring Training since 2011.
"You're giving up a talented 26-year-old in Logan Morrison, but in return, we think we have a very valuable piece that will pitch in the back end of our bullpen, and pitch meaningful innings for us," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
Morrison became expendable when the Marlins signed free-agent first baseman Garrett Jones on Tuesday.
"It's something we went back and forth with this offseason," Hill said. "We really haven't seen the productive LoMo since the 2011 season, when he hit 23 home runs."
"I think, ultimately, we felt as a group that we needed to upgrade. That six home runs and 36 RBIs, that just wasn't going to get us to where we wanted to go. We felt in Garrett Jones -- a proven, consistent producer -- anywhere from 15 to 27 home runs on an annual basis was a better fit for us moving forward. So we went in that direction."
Counting the Jones' signing, the Marlins feel they've upgraded in two areas -- first base and bullpen -- while parting with one player.
"We felt there was value in LoMo," Hill said. "He's just 26 years old, and there is still a ton of potential there. There is no question. But we wanted to go with a more proven, consistent player. Once we made that decision, we went to work on trying to find the best fit to fit our ballclub. In Carter Capps, you're talking about a highly coveted arm. Something that is not readily available to you, unless you're giving up talent in return."
In Capps, the Marlins are getting a hard-throwing right-hander that Seattle wasn't thrilled to send elsewhere. But the Mariners believe they have a deep system of reliever candidates, and so they decided moving a quality arm for a position player was worth the risk.
According to FanGraphs.com, Capps fastball averaged 96.4 mph last year, and he's occasionally reached 100 mph.
The fastest he's ever thrown, he says, was 102 in the Double-A All-Star Game a few years ago.
"I usually don't throw that hard all the time," Capps said. "I'll go out there, try to establish my fastball and see where I'm at this year."
Capps, 23, appeared in 53 games with Seattle last season. In 59 innings, he struck out 66, which is the seventh-highest by a Mariners' rookie. He posted a 3-3 record with a 5.49 ERA, and he averaged 10.07 strikeouts per nine innings, second among American League rookie relievers.
Additionally, Capps stranded 24 of 29 inherited runners (82.8 percent).
The red flag is the post-5.00 ERA, which came after he had a 3.96 ERA in 18 appearances in 2012.
In evaluating Capps, the Marlins went with what their scouts saw more than the end results.
"I saw a triple-digit fastball and a slider that was well above average," Hill said.
Miami officials also picked up on a potential glitch in his delivery.
"Our scouts identified something within his delivery that we will address immediately that I think will allow him to return to the dominant form we saw from him in 2012," Hill said. "We saw glimpses of it last year, as well. But we are not worried at all that he will not be an effective, back end reliever for us."
A 6-foot-5, 220-pounder, Capps is from Kinston, N.C., and he attended Mount Olive College. He was a supplemental third-round Draft pick in 2011, the same year Miami selected Jose Fernandez in the first round.
Last season, Capps had a string of rough appearances, and he was optioned to Triple-A, where he posted a 1.64 ERA in 11 inings, striking out nine.
"I had a few bad outings, didn't make the adjustments, and it pretty much got me down," Capps said. "I got sent down to Triple-A, where I was able to relax a little bit, and get my form back. I felt like I came back and finished very strong. I felt like the numbers are really indicative of how I really performed. Obviously, they are what they are. Overall, I was happy with it."
The Marlins and Mariners reached agreement on the trade on Wednesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings, pending the completion of reviewing medical records and finalizing paperwork.
Morrison realized once Jones was signed, he would be traded.
"Obviously, I knew it was going to happen once they signed Garrett," Morrison said Wednesday night. "It's a little shocking still, I don't know why. I don't know if shocking is the word. I guess anytime you go through a major change in your life. ... It's the only thing I've ever known, professional baseball-wise. Any time you go through a change, it's definitely going to take some time to get used to. I'm looking forward to the opportunity I'm going into."
Morrison is entering his first season of arbitration, and his salary for next season projects to be around $1.7 million.
Capps will enter Spring Training competing for a late-inning setup spot.
"Obviously, it's going to be a little bit different going to the National League," Capps said. "I'm looking forward to it. Everything that I've heard was that Miami wanted me. That's big news, going somewhere that I'm wanted."