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Twins Overpaid For Matt Capps In Trade With Nationals By Overvaluing The Save Stat

The Twins have improved their bullpen by trading for closer Matt Capps. There’s not much doubt about that. But at what cost?

NBC’s Aaron Gleeman writes that Minnesota paid for a great reliever, but got merely a good one:

No one would ever suggest that trading Ramos for a reliever who’s slightly better than [Jon] Rauch is a sound idea, yet by focusing on the save statistic the Twins have done just that and many fans will instinctively be on board with the move for an “established closer.” Now, don’t get me wrong: Capps is a quality reliever and represents a clear upgrade to the bullpen. What he’s not is an elite reliever or enough of an upgrade to part with Ramos. […]

I have no problem with trading Ramos or trading for bullpen help, and in the Twins’ minds they just traded him for an “All-Star closer.” In reality they traded Ramos for a setup-caliber reliever who accumulated saves on bad teams and is thus overrated and soon overpaid. Among the 93 pitchers who’ve logged 150-plus relief innings in the past three calendar years, Capps ranks 38th in xFIP, 49th in FIP, 50th in ERA, 61st in strikeout rate, and 85th in opponents’ average.

Over at SB Nation’s Twinkie Town, they offer a different perspective, noting that Matt Capps makes the Twins a better team this year, and that’s basically the bottom line. Which is true. But if Minnesota doesn’t win this year, and Ramos goes on to be the above-average starting catcher he’s projected to become, this deal could look awfully bad for the Twins long-term.