The Dodgers declined the options on starter Chris Capuano and second baseman Mark Ellis yesterday, and while one decision was an easy call, the other might not have been so clear.
The Dodgers announced on Twitter that they have declined their options on Mark Ellis and Chris Capuano. Ellis’ contract contained a $5.75MM club option, and Caupano’s deal contained an $8MM mutual option. Each player will receive a $1MM buyout.
Ellis hit .270/.323/.351/.674 at age 36, but played plus defense at second and ended up as a 2.0-2.5 WAR player. Given his contract, he was acceptable as a regular, but the Dodgers signed Alexander Guerrero to supplant him at second base. That said, Ellis’ $5.75 million option was a bargain, even going into his age 37 season. Wins are going at a $6-7 million clip right now, payroll is not particularly important, and Guerrero is no sure thing at second, so I felt there was a strong case for bringing him back. That case was built around the flexibility it gave the team, as it would either allow Guerrero to ease into the MLB at a later time (like Yasiel Puig) or serve as league average insurance should Guerrero prove to be a bust. Worst case scenario, they were stuck with Ellis as a bench player or could trade him since his contract has value. Now it’s basically up to Guerrero to prove his worth alone. Either that or the team has a superior option in mind that I can’t see on the free agent market at the moment.
Capuano is a different story, however. Though he posted a 3.55 FIP in 2013 compared to 3.95 in 2012, that was accomplished in limited time because he returned to his injury prone ways at age 34. After two relatively healthy years with the Mets and Dodgers in 2011 and 2012, Capuano was only able to pitch slightly over 100 innings. As such, it was questionable whether he’d even by worth the $8 million option. More importantly to the Dodgers, though, he would take up a roster spot and potentially a rotation spot, and a playoff-bound team should be able to find a superior option, either from free agency or from the minor leagues.
With the moves, the Dodgers now have 33 players on the 40-man roster.