Capps wants to remain with Nationals

Capps wants to remain with Nationals

ANAHEIM -- Reliever Matt Capps has heard his name in trade rumors, but made it clear recently that he would like to remain a member of the Nationals.

At the break, the All-Star closer is off to the best start of his career, saving 23 games -- third in the Majors -- with a 3.18 ERA. Capps' best month came in April, which he finished with a big league-best 10 saves, converting each of his save opportunities in 12 appearances. Capps, 26, posted a 0.68 ERA, recorded 15 strikeouts and held opposing hitters to a .226 batting average in his first month with Washington.

"The Nationals have been first class to me from Day 1," Capps said. "I have really enjoyed my time. I hope to make it a much longer time.

"But at the same time, I understand that it's a business and if the organization feels like it can improve themselves by what they get in return for me, they have to do that. That's part of the game of baseball. I respect that. I understand. I know that as long as I can throw a baseball, I think I will be all right."

If the Nationals decide to trade Capps, right-hander Drew Storen most likely will be the closer. Storen is currently a setup man for Washington. In 24 games, Storen is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA.

In other news, the Nats and Bryce Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, have not talked about a professional contract, according to a baseball source. No date has been set regarding talks between the two parties. The Nationals have until Aug. 16 to sign 17-year-old Harper.

"It's up to the Harper family on when they decide to talk to the Nationals," the source said.

Harper has the stats to warrant being the No. 1 overall pick. In '08, Harper had a .599 batting average with 11 home runs and 67 RBIs in 38 games for Las Vegas High School. He followed that up with a .626 batting average, 14 home runs and 55 RBIs the next season.

Playing against a higher level of competition at the College of Southern Nevada, Harper hit .442 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs during the '10 regular season. And in the National Junior College World Series, Harper hit for the cycle in a 6-for-7 performance. The next day, he went 2-for-5 in the first game of a doubleheader and 6-for-6 with four home runs in the nightcap.

Used primarily as a catcher, Harper -- if he signs -- will start his professional career in the Gulf Coast League as a right fielder. General manager Mike Rizzo feels that Harper will get to the big leagues more quickly if he plays somewhere other than behind the plate. Harper is considered an above-average outfielder with a great throwing arm and speed.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.