The Twins, having veered away from their first choice of starting pitching because of the lack of it in this year's trade market, are deciding tonight how much Washington closer Matt Capps is worth to them.
Looking to add bullpen help in lieu of finding a starter, the Twins are in deep discussions with the Nationals, who are requiring a high-level prospect in return, sources with knowledge of the discussions have told CBSSports.com. The high-level prospect currently at the top of Washington's wish list from the Twins is catcher Wilson Ramos, sources say. One sign of how serious the Twins-Nationals talks have become: Ramos was a late scratch from Triple-A Rochester's lineup tonight, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Capps, who has 25 saves and a 2.80 ERA in 46 appearances for the Nationals, would give manager Ron Gardenhire another late-innings option to go with closer Jon Rauch and set-up men Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares. The Twins recently recalled reliever Anthony Slama as well but are not sure how he will respond during the heat of a pennant race.
As for the others, Capps could close on days when Rauch is not available, or mix into the seventh and eighth innings.
The Nationals are looking to get something in return for Capps, who is a free agent this winter and would be cut loose because Drew Storen is the club's closer of the future. Capps is due a little less than $1 million in salary for the rest of this summer, but the Twins have money to spend.
Theoretically, they intended to spent it on a starting pitcher to boost a lagging rotation after Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano, but the Twins have had difficulty even finding a quality starter who would consider them. They talked with Houston about Roy Oswalt, but Oswalt had the Twins on his no-trade list. So, too, did Dan Haren -- about whom the Twins also inquired. Ditto for Ted Lilly, whom the Cubs are looking to move but in whom there is far less interest than there was in Oswalt or Haren.
The Twins into Thursday were second in the AL Central, trailing the Chicago White Sox by one game.