Where does Chris Capuano go from here?

When the Dodgers signed left-hander Chris Capuano and right-hander Aaron Harang to respective two-year contracts prior to the 2012 season, they did so to fill the void created by not re-signing (then) 36-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who wanted a one-year contract in the neighborhood of $12 million. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti felt that Kuroda was at the end of his career and his effectiveness would drop off significantly.

Kuroda ended up signing consecutive one-year contracts with the Yankees for $10 million in 2012 and $15 million in 2013, while (then) 33-year-old Capuano was given a two-year/$10 million contract and (then) 34-year-old Harang a two-year/$12 million contract. Both Capuano and Harang had mutual options for 2014 – Capuano’s an $8 million option with a $1 million buyout and Harang’s a $7 to $8 million option with a $2 million buyout.

So, how did things work out for Capuano, Harang and Kuroda?

They worked out great… if you’re are a Yankees fan.

In his two full seasons with the Dodgers (much of which was spent on the disabled list), Capuano was 16-19 with a 3.91 ERA. He allowed 36 home runs while striking out 243 and walking 78 in 304 innings pitched.

In his two seasons with the Dodgers, left-hander Chris Capuano was either very very good or very very bad... or injured. (Photo credit - Ron Cervenka)

In his two seasons with the Dodgers, left-hander Chris Capuano was either very very good or very very bad… or on the DL. (Photo credit – Ron Cervenka)

Harang, (who pitched only one full season with the Dodgers before being traded to the Rockies, who immediately designated him for assignment and traded him to the Mariners, who eventually designated him for assignment, who was signed to a minor league contract by the Mets and finished the 2013 on their active roster) was a combined 15-22 with a 4.90 ERA. He allowed 40 home runs while striking out 244 and walking 125 in 323 innings pitched.

In his two full seasons with the Yankees, Kuroda was 27-24 with a 3.31 ERA. He allowed 45 home runs while striking out 317 and walking 94 in 421 innings pitched – definitely not what I would consider a drop off in effectiveness.

Although Harang was gone shortly after opening day 2013 (with the Dodgers paying all but $2 million of the $7 million owed to him), Capuano remained and actually had moments of greatness. Unfortunately, he had more moments of awfulness.

Because of an abundance of starting pitchers on opening day, Capuano began the 2013 season in the Dodgers bullpen with management trying to figure out a role for him. That didn’t last long, however, when Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin broke Zack Greinke’s collarbone in a brawl on April 11. Capuano was inserted into the Dodgers rotation to fill in for Greinke but had to leave in his first start on April 16 with a strained left calf. He also spent time on the DL after straining his left lat muscle on May 25 and would have landed on the DL for a strained groin suffered on September 6 were it not for the September 1 expanded rosters.

Capuano returned from his groin injury and was included on the Dodgers NLDS roster, due primarily to the ineffectiveness of fellow left-hander Paco Rodriguez, who simply ran out of gas in the final month of the regular season. Capuano made one appearance in the NLDS and pitched great in relief of Hyun-jin Ryu to earn the win in Game-3. In his three innings of work, Capuano allowed no runs or hits while walking three and striking out three.

Surprisingly, Capuano was left off of the NLCS roster (as was Paco Rodriguez) in favor of Ricky Nolasco and Edinson Volquez, thus leaving J.P. Howell as the only left-hander in the Dodgers bullpen. With hindsight being 20/20 and all, I’m guessing that Colletti and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would have included Capuano on the NLCS roster if they had it to do over again.

With Capuano’s Jekyll and Hyde two seasons with the Dodgers, will they pick up his $8 million option for 2014? In my opinion the answer is an unequivocal ‘no.’ I say this not because I don’t like Capuano; in fact, I really like him. He is extremely intelligent and is great with his teammates, the media and fans. I say this because Colletti has already made it known that the Dodgers are in heavy on 24-year-old Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka and may even be looking at former Cy Young Award winner David Price – and this doesn’t even take into account that Josh Beckett is expected to be 100% healthy for spring training 2014 and Chad Billingsley possibly ready by the All-Star break. In other words, the $7 million that the Dodgers would save after Capuano’s $1 million buyout could be better spent elsewhere.

At 35 years of age and with some gas still left in his tank, there is little doubt that Capuano will land on somebody’s roster on opening day 2014, but it is very unlikely that it will be the Dodgers.


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8 Responses to “Where does Chris Capuano go from here?”

  1. OldBrooklynFan says:

    I’m in favor of the Dodgers going after guys like David Price, if for no other reason than we’ve learned that we never have enough starting pitchers. I doubt they’ll hold unto Capiano with Beckett returning this spring and Billingsley later on.

  2. echavez2 says:

    Na let him walk. At the time in the Mcourt era ned did what he had to do to put the team together( get two starters instead of paying for Kuroda). I might sound like a greedy fan but I want David Price.

  3. Cy Young says:

    Yeah, see ya Cappy.

    I’m praying we get Tanaka and hopefully slot either Lee or Beckett as the #5 starter. Seems like everyone is in on Tanaka though. Everyday I’m reading a new article about how “x” team covets Tanaka. Might be tough competition

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      It’s looking like the free agent bidding process is going to change, which will probably knock a few teams out.

      I get the impression from Ned that they really want this kid and they certainly have the means to win the bid.

  4. Bluenose Dodger says:

    I didn’t think when Harang and Capuano were acquired that the team was very forward looking. They were seen as innings eaters, especially Harang. I hate that term. Capuano as expected was the better acquisition and had some very good moments. He’s a good team mate but I don’t think can play much of a part in building for the future. All acquisitions should be building for strength and depth going forward. He will be picked up by some team.

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