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Wednesday, December 23, 2009
To close or set up?

By Bruce Levine

It may be a late-evening decision Wednesday night that decides whether relief pitcher Matt Capps ends up pitching for the Washington Nationals or the Chicago Cubs in 2010.

Washington has proposed two different scenarios to Capps, including a one- and two-year deal. At this point, the Capps camp may be leaning toward a one-year contract with incentives that could take the deal to $4 million. Released by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 12, Capps is two years shy of free-agent status.

If he accepts the Nationals' offer, he has been promised the role of closer for 2010. The 26-year-old right-hander would be able to build toward a much bigger payday in a multi-year deal in 2011 and beyond in the closer's role.

If Capps chooses to go with the Cubs, his role initially would be as the right-handed setup man for closer Carlos Marmol. Building up cash equity in that role would be a much more difficult process for him in the future.

The appeal of pitching at Wrigley Field for a team that could easily rebound and win their division intrigues Capps. Current Cubs Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow are former teammates of Capps' in Pittsburgh. Capps and his wife are close friends with both pitchers and their wives.

It is unclear if the Cubs have made a contract proposal to Capps and his agent Paul Kinzer. But it is known that Chicago has talked parameters of a contract with Kinzer over the past two weeks.

Barring any unforeseen change, the Cubs will contact Kinzer sometime Wednesday evening with either a proposal in hand or stating that they are bowing out of negotiations. Either way, Capps is expected to sign with a new team before midnight Wednesday.