MLB Free Agents 2012: Chris Capuano, Aaron Hill, K-Rod and Clint Barmes Analysis

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MLB Free Agents 2012: Chris Capuano, Aaron Hill, K-Rod and Clint Barmes Analysis
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Chris Capuano

2011 Stats: 4.55 ERA, 4.04 FIP, 3.67 xFIP, 1.35 WHIP, 8.13 K/9, 2.56 BB/9, 1.6 WAR

Capuano played his first season as a full time starter since 2007 and put together a decent season. His 4.55 ERA might not suggest it, but Capuano has some value because of his ability to miss bats despite possessing below average stuff.

He is a three-pitch pitcher who throws a fastball that averages 87.9 mph, a change-up (78.3 mph) and a slider (79.6 mph). He averaged 8.13 strikeouts per nine innings. His 10.5 percent swinging strike rate was tied for 13th among qualified starting pitchers while throwing strikes.

His xFIP does not accurately reflect his performance, as his 12 percent HR/FB ratio was right in line with his career ratio (11.8 percent).

At 33 years old, he has not logged a ton of innings because of two Tommy John surgeries, and I would not be that hesitant to give him a two-year deal in the right situation.

Capuano did benefit from pitching in CitiField for half of the season, where he posted a 3.27 FIP. He would best be suited to stay in the National League and pitch in a bigger ballpark to limit his home runs.

At $1.5 million, the Mets got a bargain, but he probably will not return since he is looking for a multi-year deal. The Dodgers seem like a perfect fit, especially if Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan.

I see him posting an ERA close to 4.10 with similar peripherals in 2012.

Prediction: Dodgers 

 

Aaron Hill

2011 Stats: .246/.299/.356, 8 HR, 79 wRC+, .292 wOBA, .110 ISO, 21 SB, 0.8 WAR

The 29-year-old Hill signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Diamondbacks last week to remain the club’s second baseman. While he was horrendous with Toronto for most of 2011, he improved his season by going .315/.386/.492.

Out of nowhere, Hill became a stolen-base threat (his 21 was a career high), but his home run numbers dropped from 26 to eight home runs. Hill’s average should have been high, considering he had a .268 BABIP and an above average 21.2 percent line drive rate and that he lowered his strikeout rate from 14.7 to 12.6 percent.

At $5.5 million a year, Arizona got a fair deal for a guy who might be able to get back to 20 home runs once again. Hill’s performances over the last few seasons have been all over the map, and I think that he can get back to a .250/.306/.405 line along with 15-18 home runs.

He plays above average defense at second base, and at two years, there is a chance that Hill can become a 3.5-win player again. It’s more likely that he will produce a 1.5-2 WAR.

I still don’t understand wanting to have him over Kelly Johnson, but the Dbacks should get market value out of his contract.

Prediction: Signed with Diamondbacks

 

Francisco Rodriguez

2011 Stats: 2.64 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 3.08 xFIP, 1.30 WHIP, 9.92 K/9, 3.27 BB/9, 1.4 WAR

K-Rod is the fourth-best reliever on the market for his second stint in free agency, and at 29, he is younger than Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Madson and Heath Bell.

While he does not feature a 95 mph fastball anymore (averaged 90.3 mph in 2011), that velocity is played up by his big curveball (76.7 mph) and great changeup (82.6 mph). That repertoire allows him to pitch effectively to LHH (3.19 xFIP).

K-Rod has improved his command over the last few seasons; his 3.27 BB/9 was the second-best walk rate of his career. He showed a newfound ability to induce ground balls (51.8 percent in 2011), but that rate may be a red herring.

Additionally, his 12 percent swinging strike rate was an improvement over his 2010 numbers, and it is likely that his strikeout rate improves to 10.00 K/9.

K-Rod has been rumored to be looking for a three-year contract, but considering his career workload and declining velocity, the third year could be costly for any club willing to sign him that long.

I would not go more than two years, for $12 million, but some clubs will probably be willing to overpay.

The Rockies, Reds, Mets and Marlins are on the lookout for closers. The Marlins could be the safe bet if Heath Bell stays with the Padres, but the Reds could be the most interested in bringing him in to replace Francisco Cordero.

Prediction: Reds 

 

Clint Barmes

2011 Stats: .244/.312/.386, 12 HR, 94 wRC+, .308 wOBA, .141 ISO, 3 SB, 3.1 WAR

The Pirates signed the 32-year-old shortstop to a two-year, $10.5 million deal. He will be replacing Ronny Cedeno, whose $3 million option was turned down.

At first glance, Barmes does not look like a worthy acquisition, but he was the fourth-best shortstop on the market. He is a very good defensive player with above average range and good hands.

In terms of offense, he leaves a lot to be desired, in part because of his OBP and his increasing strikeout rates. Because of a high number of infield flies (16.5 percent in 2011), Barmes usually posts a below average BABIP (.281 career rate), so his batting average will probably not make it above .255.

Despite some of his offensive shortcomings, he does possess some power, as his .141 ISO indicates, and he will probably hit anywhere between 10 and 14 home runs this season if healthy along with a .249/.308/.390 line.

Barmes made sense for certain teams looking to upgrade at shortstop, and I thought he was best suited to play for the Brewers if the club missed out on Jose Reyes. For the Pirates, Barmes on a multi-year deal does not make much sense, and he comes into 2012 as the team’s highest-paid player.

Two years might be a problem, as I would be worried about offensive decline in year two, and his walk rate could always drop to his career 5.4 percent rate for both years.

Prediction: Signed with Pirates

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