NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 27: Chris Capuano #38 of the New York Mets throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning during a game at Citi Field on September 27, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Hiroki Kuroda's days as a Dodger are over. The Dodgers have signed Chris Capuano to a two-year, $10 million contract, as first reported by Jim Bowden of ESPN. The contract also reportedly includes up to $1 million in incentives, per Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports. The contract also contains a mutual option for 2014.
2012: $3 million
2013: $6 million
2014: $8 million mutual option ($1 million buyout)
On the surface, the deal seems fine. The 33-year old pitcher is like a Ted Lilly type (left-handed, 87.9 mph average fastball last season, prone to giving up home runs, low walks, above-average strikeout rate), though with a slider and changeup instead of a curve, and without the durability. Capuano comes much cheaper than Lilly, though with his injury history I'm not sure why a second year was necessary.
Capuano was 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA last year in 186 innings with the New York Mets. It was his first full season back after missing nearly two and a half seasons with injuries. He finished the 2007 season 0-12 with a 6.06 ERA over his final 22 appearances, then underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in October of that year.
In his first start of spring training in 2008, Capuano tore the ulnar ligament in his left elbow and had to undergo Tommy John surgery in May 2008. It was the second Tommy John surgery of his career, as he also had the procedure done in 2002. He missed all of 2008 and nearly all of 2009, limited to six minor league starts at the end of the year. He pitched 66 innings for the Brewers in 2010.
Aside from the injury risk, there are reasons to be concerned about Capuano. Away from Citi Field last season, opposing batters hit .291/.345/.538 with 17 home runs in just under 85 innings, a 5.42 ERA / 4.96 FIP / 4.00 xFIP compared to 3.82 / 3.27 / 3.40 in New York.
On the surface, this is not a bad deal. However, if forced to choose between signing Capuano and Juan Rivera (for $4 million in 2012) or Kuroda alone, I would have chosen Kuroda.
This does give the Dodgers a very left-handed rotation, with Capuano joining Lilly and reigning Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. If Dana Eveland sticks around and wins the fifth starter spot, it could be even more left-leaning. The last time the Dodgers got 90 or more starts from left-handers was 1985, when southpaws started 95 of their games. The club record since moving to Los Angeles is 112 starts from left-handers by the 1965 team.
The Dodgers now have a full 40 players on their 40-man roster.