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Trading Places: Matt Capps in Minnesota
Reggie Yinger | Saturday July 31st, 2010
The Mad Capper lands in Target Field. (AP)
The Mad Capper lands in Target Field. (AP)
Matt Capps
The Mad Capper hopes to bolster the Twins' bullpen. (AP)

The Washington Nationals wasted no time making a splash during the trade deadline this season, as they sent All Star closer Matt Capps and cash to the Minnesota Twins for catching prospect Wilson Ramos and left-handed reliever Joe Testa.

Capps has certainly turned things around for himself over the past 10 months, going from being non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates over the off-season, to signing a $3.5 million contract with the Nationals, making his first career All Star appearance, and finally being traded from a team in last place to a team competing in a divisional race.

Statistically, Capps has turned it around from last year, converting 26 of 30 save opportunities with a 4.22 K/B ratio, but was the deal worth it for the Twins?  Ex-National Jon Rauch has posted similar numbers this season, converting 21 of 25 save opportunities with a 3.00 K/BB ratio.  While Rauch has struggled with control at times this season, it's important to note that he hasn't had this many save opportunities since he played for the Nationals and Diamondbacks back in 2008 (24).

With Capps moving to the American League, the Nationals are left with Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard at the back end of their bullpen. Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman hasn't formally announced a closer, but make no mistake, Storen will be the closer for years to come in D.C.

In return for Capps, the Nationals received catching prospect Wilson Ramos, who was rated the second best prospect in the Twins organization for 2010 by Baseball America, and was rated 58th overall best prospect in all of baseball.  Wilson got a cup of coffee earlier this season with the Twins while Joe Mauer was injured, hitting .296 (8 for 27) with a .296 OBP and a .345 SLG over seven games.  At Triple-A this season, Ramos is hitting .241 with a .280 OBP, .345 SLG, 5 HR, and 30 RBI over 71 games.  Ramos is an all or nothing guy, meaning he doesn't draw a lot of walks (12 walks in 295 plate appearances), but can certainly drive the ball with power.  The real aspect that Ramos brings to the table are his defensive skills, as he's thrown out 46% (32 of 69)  of would be basestealers during 2009 and this season.  Ramos will report to the Triple-A Syracuse team to start his career in the Nats organization, but the Nationals have already announced that he will be a September call-up once the rosters expand.  With Joe Mauer blocking the position behind the dish for the Twins over the next eight years, Ramos was out of options.

While the Nationals have Ivan Rodriguez inked to a two-year deal, Ramos shouldn't be too far away from taking over the starting gig for the Nationals. Pudge may be great at calling games, but he simply isn't getting the job done while hitting this season.  The 20-season veteran is hitting just .079 (3 for 38) with a .077 OBP since the All Star break.  The move for Ramos also gives the Nationals more time to develop prospect Derek Norris (high Single-A) in the minor leagues, and the ability to have their highly anticipated draft pick, Bryce Harper, concentrate on playing the outfield.

The Twins also sent the Nationals left-handed pitcher Joe Testa, who over three minor league seasons has posted a 10-7 record with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.  Testa features a low-ninties fastball with a slider and curveball.  Testa has appeared in 36 games this season, posting a 2-5 record with a 5.50 ERA.  He started the season at the Double-A level and was lit-up over 21 appearances to the tune of a 8.25 ERA and a 1.83 WHIP and was sent back to Single-A where he has a 8.7 K/9 ratio and a 3.6 BB/9 ratio. 

In closing, the Nationals killed two birds with one stone during this trade.  They were able to trade an above-average relief pitcher that is having a nice bounce-back season, who is also arbitration eligible after 2010, for a prospect at a position where they were lacking depth.  While Ramos certainly didn't have a place to play in Minnesota, the return on him could have been greater.
Reggie YingerReggie is a writer and the co-founder of Baseball Press. He enjoys fantasy baseball and hates when players bunt in baseball.