Matt Belisle Rumors

Checking In On Colorado’s Offseason Extensions

The Rockies were one of the most aggressive teams in baseball in terms of extensions last offseason. They locked six of their players up on multiyear deals, including two contracts worth $80MM or more.

It’s still too early to say with much authority that the deals failed or succeeded, but Troy Tulowitzki’s contract doesn’t expire until 2020 at the earliest and that’s a long wait, so let's check in on the deals now. The early verdict? Nearly five months into the season, the Rockies’ new deals are going well, largely because their biggest investments are looking good. That in itself doesn't justify the moves, but it's certainly better than the alternative.

Tulowitzki (ten years, $157.75MM), Carlos Gonzalez (seven years, $80MM), Matt Lindstrom (two years, $6.6MM), Jason Hammel (two years, $7.75MM), Rafael Betancourt (two years, $8.02MM) and Matt Belisle (two years, $6.125MM) all signed long-term last winter. Conventional wisdom says multiyear deals for relievers and megadeals for players already under long-term control aren’t the most prudent ways of spending money, especially for a mid-market team. Nevertheless, the Rockies went ahead with the moves and they’re going well so far this year.

It would be hard to argue that Tulowitzki isn’t the best shortstop in the game. Gonzalez has boosted his walk rate, lowered his strikeout rate and, thanks to a recent hot streak that has included seven home runs in 12 days, raised his season line to .289/.360/.523. Betancourt, Belisle and Lindstrom (now on the DL) have each pitched at least 43 2/3 innings with at least 6.2 K/9, no more than 2.3 BB/9 and an ERA of 3.41 or below. Even Hammel, who just lost his rotation spot to Alex White, provided Colorado with three months’ worth of solid starts before faltering in July and August.

The extensions look good so far, despite the Rockies’ disappointing 63-68 record. At this point, that’s all Colorado could hope for. But every player they locked up could have been on the team this year even if GM Dan O’Dowd hadn’t inked them to long-term deals, so the final verdict on the 2010-11 offseason deals will have to wait for another decade or so.


Rockies Could Move Relievers

The Rockies are currently 9.5 games out in the NL West.  They don't have any crucial players heading to free agency after the season, but they may still have some expendable veterans.  In particular, MLB.com's Thomas Harding says "information is surfacing that the Rockies could be willing to deal any of three key right-handed relievers" – Huston Street, Rafael Betancourt, and Matt Belisle.

Street, 28 in August, has a 3.56 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, 1.67 HR/9, and 39.0% groundball rate in 43 innings this year.  At the deadline he'll have $2.37MM left on his contract this year, plus $7.5MM in '12 and a $500K buyout after that season for a total of $10.37MM.  Yesterday, Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports wrote that there have been "recent inquiries" on Street.  However, keep in mind that GM Dan O'Dowd has no directive to shed salary.  If Street is dealt, Matt Lindstrom would probably close, as indicated on our depth chart at CloserNews.

Betancourt, 36, has a 4.66 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, 1.47 HR/9, and 30.6% groundball rate in 36 2/3 innings.  His numbers are similar to Street's in that he limits free passes but is prone to the longball.  Betancourt will have $1.22MM left this year at the deadline, plus $4MM in '12 and a $250K buyout after that season for a total of $5.47MM.  Since he doesn't have saves on his resume, he earns half as much as Street.

Belisle, 31, has a 3.46 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.86 HR/9, and 46.8% groundball rate in 41 2/3 innings.  He will have $1.05MM left this year at the deadline and $3.775MM in '12 for a total of $4.825MM.  This is the first time his name has been mentioned as a potential trade target.

The Yankees, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Phillies, and Rangers are contenders who are in the hunt for relief help.


Rockies, Matt Belisle Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Rockies and Matt Belisle have agreed to a two-year contract worth $6.125MM according to the right-hander's representatives, CAA (on Twitter). The deal also includes performance bonuses.

The two sides agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.35MM last month to avoid arbitration. The new contract buys out Belisle's final season of arbitration-eligibility and one year of free agency. 

Belisle, 30, found a home in Colorado's bullpen in 2009 after years of trying to cut it as a starter with the Reds. He broke out in a big way in 2010, leading all big league relievers with 92 innings pitched. Belisle struck out 91 batters (8.9 K/9) and walked just 16 (1.6 BB/9) in all those innings, though it's worth noting that five of those walks were intentional. He was also adept at getting ground balls, with a 46.3% grounder rate.

Colorado has now signed a total of six players to multiyear contract extensions this winter, as our Transaction Tracker shows. The others: Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Lindstrom, Jason Hammel, and Rafael Betancourt. The total value of those extensions is north of $220MM, with most going to Tulo and CarGo.



Rockies Avoid Arbitration With Matt Belisle

The Rockies have agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM contract with Matt Belisle, reports Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link).  Colorado avoids salary arbitration with Belisle, who was in his third and final arb-eligible season.

Belisle and the Rockies agreed to an $0.85MM contract for 2010, and the right-hander responded with the finest season of his seven-year Major League career.  Belisle posted a 2.93 ERA, and 8.9 K/9 rate and a very impressive 5.69 K/BB ratio in 76 games for Colorado, all of which were career bests.

Belisle, 30, is the first of six arb-eligible Rockies to settle a contract with the club.  These cases and every other arbitration-eligible player in baseball can be followed on the MLBTR Arb Tracker.


Amateur Signing Bonuses: Braves

Let's continue our look at each team's amateur spending with the Atlanta Braves. Here are the five largest signing bonuses they've paid out…

  1. Mike Minor, $2.42MM (2009)
  2. Jeff Francoeur, $2.2MM (2002)
  3. Matt Belisle, $1.75MM (1998)
  4. Jason Heyward, $1.7MM (2007)
  5. Edward Salcedo, $1.6MM (2010)

The seventh overall pick in 2009, Minor shot through the minors this season and made eight starts (and one relief appearance) for the Braves. His 5.98 ERA in 40.2 innings was ugly but the peripherals were excellent: 9.5 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He figures to get a much longer look next season.

Francoeur, the 23rd overall pick in 2002, burst onto the scene with a .300/.336/.549 effort in his 2005 rookie campaign, but struggled thereafter. He hit just .266/.308/.424 with the Braves before being traded to the Mets for Ryan Church a few weeks before the 2009 trade deadline. Belisle was the 52nd overall pick in 1998, but he never appeared in a game for Atlanta. He pitched well in the minor leagues before missing the entire 2001 season due to injury, and the Braves eventually shipped him to the Reds as a player to be named later in a 2003 deal for Kent Mercker.

Heyward somehow lasted until the 14th overall pick of the 2007, and he just wrapped up a tremendously successful rookie campaign: .277/.393/.456 in 623 plate appearances. He should receive plenty of Rookie of the Year votes, if not in the award outright. Salcedo turned pro just this summer, and hit .225/.307/.333 in 304 A-ball plate appearances. He is arguably the team's best position player prospect due to his talent level and physical gifts. 

Kenshin Kawakami was a long-time veteran of the Japanese leagues, but if we relax our criteria a bit to include players with zero MLB experience, his $2MM signing bonus would slot in at number three.


Colorado Re-Signs Matt Belisle, Randy Flores

8:42 PM: The Denver Post's Troy Renck has an update on the contract details

6:25 PM: The Rockies re-signed relievers Matt Belisle and Randy Flores to one-year contracts on Thursday.  Terms of the deals weren't announced, though both pitchers were eligible for salary arbitration.  Belisle, a right-hander, posted a 5.52 ERA but a strong 4.4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 24 appearances last year with Colorado after spending his first five big-league seasons in Cincinnati.  Southpaw Flores appeared in 27 games for the Rockies last season, recording a strong 10.5 K/9.

Tracy Ringolsby believes that with Belisle and Flores back in the fold, Joe Beimel is the odd man out in the Rockies' bullpen.  Beimel had a 4.02 ERA in 26 games with Colorado after being acquired from Washington at the trade deadline, but Ringolsby thinks that Colorado will stick with Flores and Franklin Morales as their main left-handed relief options.

In other Rockies news from Thursday, the club outrighted reliever Joel Peralta and infielder Omar Quintanilla,  Peralta (who is now a free agent) is still being pursued for a minor-league contract while Quintanilla is on the Triple-A Colorado Springs roster.


Rockies Notes: Marquis, Betancourt, Giambi

Tracy Ringolsby of Inside The Rockies examines Colorado's commitments for 2010, and the decisions they'll face regarding potential free agents and arbitration cases. Here are a few of his thoughts:

  • Jason Marquis has said he wants to sign with the Mets and likely won't be back in Colorado.
  • There's a good chance that lefty Alan Embree will retire.
  • Jose Contreras is interested in returning in a middle relief capacity, but Matt Belisle is a younger option for the team in that role.
  • The club would like to retain Rafael Betancourt, but his contract would have to be reworked. Betancourt has a $5.4MM club option for 2010.
  • Behind the plate, Chris Iannetta will be back as the starter. Yorvit Torrealba could return as Ianetta's backup, but probably not for more than $1MM.
  • The team may not have room for Jason Giambi, instead opting to use his roster spot on a right-handed hitter who can play both infield corners.
  • Righty relievers Juan Rincon and Matt Herges could receive minor-league invites.

Rockies DFA Matt Belisle

According to Tracy Ringolsby, the Rockies designated righthander Matt Belisle for assignment today. The move was made to clear room on the roster for Manny Corpas, who is returning from an elbow injury. Belisle pitched in 15 games for Colorado this season, putting up a 8.35 ERA in 18.1 IP.


Odds & Ends: Draft, Rangers, Feliz

Another collection of random links…


Matt Belisle Designated For Assignment

According to Tracy Ringolsby of Inside the Rockies, the team designated pitcher Matt Belisle for assignment and recalled Josh Fogg.  Ringolsby feels the Padres might make a waiver claim on Belisle, who was knocked around in 17.3 relief innings this year.