The Brewers made an overcast January morning a little brighter today, announcing a gloriously delightful bit of news in the return of fan favorite Chris Capuano, who signed a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp. The left-hander, who will turn 38 in August, says he plans to make a run at the major league rotation:
Chris Capuano says he'll report to camp to bid for a spot in the Brewers' starting rotation.— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 25, 2016
Milwaukee acquired Capuano in a blockbuster deal with Arizona in December of 2003 which saw the Brewers and the Diamondbacks swap first basemen in Lyle Overbay and Richie Sexson. Milwaukee also acquired Jorge De La Rosa, Chad Moeller, Junior Spivey and, of course, Craig Counsell in that deal, while Shane Nance and Noochie Varner joined Sexson in the desert.
In 2005, Capuano became the Brewers' first 18-game winner in 18 years, tossing 219 innings with an ERA of 3.99. He was named a National League All-Star the following year, replacing Tom Glavine, when he started the season 10-4 with a 3.21 ERA in the first half, but he finished the season winning only 1 of his last 15 starts with 5.17 ERA.
On May 7, 2007, Capuano scattered seven hits over eight shutout innings, striking out nine in a 3-0 win over the Nationals and lowering his season ERA to 2.31. It would be the last time the Brewers would win a game that Capuano appeared in for over three years, when he pitched the ninth inning of a 12-5 win over St. Louis on July 3, 2010. The win snapped a streak of 26 straight games in which Capuano appeared that the Brewers lost, a streak that was extended for two years by injury. Capuano spent 2008 and 2009 trying to recover from his second Tommy John surgery, which he underwent just prior to the start of the 2008 season.
Cappy and the Brewers parted ways after the 2010 season when he signed a 1 year, $1.5 million deal with the Mets. He performed well enough and, more importantly, stayed healthy enough to earn himself a 2 year, $9 million deal with the Dodgers the following off-season. Capuano enjoyed perhaps his finest season in 2012 with Los Angeles, posting a 3.72 ERA in 33 starts.
The Red Sox signed Capuano to a 1 year deal in 2014, but released him in early July. He was scooped up by the Rockies and subsequently traded to the Yankees for cash, for whom he made 12 starts down the stretch. He performed well enough to earn a 1 year, $5 million deal from New York in the off-season, but he struggled to a 7.97 ERA over 40.2 innings and was yo-yo'd back and forth from the major league roster to the minors, being designated for assignment four separate times.
Steamer projects Capuano for a 3.51 ERA, 21.6% strikeout rate and 7.1% walk rate -- over just 10 IP -- in 2016. Those ratios would be great, obviously -- and better than any Capano has ever posted over a full season. In his 11-year career, Cappy is 76-91 with a 4.39 ERA, 1172 strikeouts and 16.2 total fWAR.
In addition to Capuano, the Brewers also announced they had resigned LHP Cesar Jimenez to a minor league deal. Jimenez made 16 relief appearances for the Brewers in 2015, posting a 3.66 ERA, but was not tendered a contract by Milwaukee in his first year of eligibility for arbitration. Jimenez, 31, also received an invitation to major league camp.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs