Nats land prized Ramos from Twins for Capps
Washington also acquires lefty Testa in three-player deal
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have traded closer Matt Capps, the team's lone All-Star representative, and cash to the Twins for catcher Wilson Ramos and left-hander Joe Testa.
Capps played his last game for Washington on Thursday afternoon and picked up his 26th save of the season as the Nationals defeated the Braves, 5-3.
Capps, 26, came to the Nationals in the offseason as a free agent, signing a one-year, $3.5 million contract. He helped improved a bullpen that was one of the worst in baseball last year.
When reached by phone, Capps was packing his suitcase to head to Minnesota on Friday morning.
"I have a lot of emotions going on," Capps said. "My concern is just getting everything ready, getting where I need to be and making sure that my wife is taken care of -- making sure that everything is not thrown on her shoulders."
Capps said he enjoyed his time with the Nationals, who signed him after he was non-tendered by the Pirates last December.
"I'm excited about the opportunity to go and play in the playoffs," Capps said. "Right now, I'm saddened I'm leaving a group of guys and the people in the Washington organization. They have been classy from the get-go. When everything happened in December, when the Pirates non-tendered me, it was an empty feeling.
|The Twins felt they needed help in the bullpen, so they went out and got All-Star closer Matt Capps. To get him, they had to give up a very good catching prospect along with a left-handed reliever. Here is some more information on Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa:|
Ramos, who will be 23 in August, was the key to this deal. Signed back in 2004, he's been developed slowly, but surely through the Twins system, reaching Triple-A and making his big league debut in 2010. He's one of the better catching prospects in the game with plenty of upside.
His defense is pretty much ready for the Major League scene. Ramos has thrown out 45 percent of would-be basestealers over the course of his career, 50 percent thus far in 2010. He's graded out as a plus catch-and-throw guy.
His bat is behind his glove, but that doesn't mean there isn't promise there. It might be a work in progress -- he hit .317/.341/.454 in Double-A in 2009 and is at .241/.280/.345 this season -- but most feel it will come around. It hasn't necessarily translated into in-game power, but there is pop in his bat. A career .284 hitter in the Minors, he should be able to hit. If the bat develops, with his defensive skills, he has the chance to be a front-line everyday catcher in the big leagues.
Testa might seem like more of a throw-in, but it would be wrong to completely discount a lefty with that kind of arm. An undersized southpaw, he signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2008 after four years at Wagner College.
A starter in college, Testa has been used primarily as a reliever as a pro and that's his future role. The 24-year-old employs a fastball-cutter combination with some success. In his career, he's got a 10.7 strikeout-per-nine ratio, with 196 K's in 165 total innings. He began this year in Double-A, but after struggling there (8.25 ERA in 24 IP), he got moved back down to Class A Advanced Fort Myers and has a 3.30 ERA in 15 outings there. He needs to work on his command, but he can crank his fastball up to 95 mph.
A look at his career splits might give a hint what his relief job might be down the line. Since signing, he's held left-handed hitters to a .167 average (.263 vs. RHH).
-- Jonathan Mayo
"The Washington Nationals and everyone involved have been absolutely phenomenal. It's something that I will remember for a long time. I certainly enjoyed my time. Now, I have to focus on moving forward and helping the Minnesota Twins."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Capps will be the team's closer. Right-hander Jon Rauch had been Minnesota's man in the ninth inning, but was informed by Gardenhire on Thursday night that he will move to a setup rule.
With Capps gone, the Nationals will split the closer's duties between Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen. Clippard and Storen were setup men, while Burnett was a situational lefty before the trade.
"I think that we have a lot of guys who are capable of filling Matt's shoes," Clippard said before the trade. "Matt has done well this year and meant a lot to our team. You don't want to see him go."
Asked if he and Storen could do the job as a closer, Clippard said, "I think so. No doubt. I know Drew did it in the past in college. Myself, I feel I got a little taste of it earlier in the year. I got a save. I feel it would be role I would want to try to take over and see if I could do that."
The Nationals are hoping to have Ramos, 22, for a long time. The Nationals get one of baseball's best catching prospects. He made his Major League debut this year for Minnesota and was 8-for-27 (.296) with an RBI.
Before the trade, Ramos was playing for Triple-A Rochester, hitting .241 with five home runs and 30 RBIs. Ramos will most likely go to Triple-A Syracuse.
The Nationals are in need of catching depth because Jesus Flores has missed the entire season with a right shoulder injury and there isn't a timetable on when he will return to the big leagues. He has dealt with the injury since May 2009, when he was hit by a foul tip off the bat of D-backs outfielder Chris Young.
Washington's other top catching prospect, Derek Norris, has also missed a lot of time because of injuries. He still needs to work on his game behind the plate.
As for Testa, he is a reliever and was a combined 2-5 with a 5.86 ERA for Class A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain.
According to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, Testa, 24, has had success with a fastball-cutter combination. In his career, he has 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings, with 196 K's in 165 innings.