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Rafael Betancourt Rumors
The Rockies and right-hander Rafael Betancourt have agreed to terms on a minor league deal, the team announced via Twitter. Betancourt, who is represented by Octagon, will report to extended Spring Training with the Rockies. Troy Renck of the Denver Post calls the signing a “formality,” noting that his plan is to work out in extended Spring Training with an eye toward pitching in the Majors late this summer (Twitter link).
Betancourt, who turns 39 next week, is attempting a comeback from Tommy John surgery at a late stage in his career. Last August, when Betancourt decided to undergo the procedure, he acknowledged that it could be the end of the line but stated that he’d attempt to rehab and make a comeback. Of course, due to his injury, the Rockies declined a $4.25MM option to retain his services after the season ended.
Betancourt’s entire career to this point has been split between the Indians and the Rockies. He took over as Colorado’s closer in 2011 and saved 31 games for the Rox in 2012. Always an excellent setup man in Cleveland (with the exception of a fluke 2008 season), Betancourt stepped up his game with the Rockies and posted a 3.08 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 57 saves in 236 1/3 innings with Colorado from 2009-13.
Dr. Frank Jobe, the man who performed the first — or, perhaps more accurately, the – Tommy John surgery, has passed away at the age of 88. As MLB.com's Ken Gurnick writes, the longtime Dodgers medical director was instrumental in pioneering that now-commonplace, immensely impactful procedure: "it was Jobe who invented it, performed it, refined it and taught it to hundreds of training orthopedic surgeons." Needless to say, Jobe's contributions to the game will continue to have impact for generations to come, and MLBTR joins the rest of the baseball world in saluting him in passing. If you're interested in learning more about his remarkable life, see this excellent bio piece from MLB.com's Doug Miller.
More from the NL West:
- Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin suffered an arm issue of his own, rupturing his left biceps tendon, but will not need surgery at this point, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports. GM Josh Byrnes said he feared the worst — a season-ending injury — but that after consulting the medical staff "the strong consensus was no surgery." Though a timeline has not yet been set, Maybin could return within four to six weeks. San Diego should have plenty of depth to cover in Maybin's absence, though the club will certainly hope for a positive resolution of this latest setback for the 26-year-old, who signed a five-year, $25MM deal before the 2012 season.
- Meanwhile, the Padres have let third baseman Chase Headley know that they fully intend to make him a qualifying offer at the end of the year, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com via Twitter. While this does not come as a surprise, it indicates that San Diego — like the Indians with Justin Masterson — views the QO as a card to be played in extension talks.
- Former Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt will work out with the club for a ten-day stretch as he seeks another shot at a MLB job, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The club previously declined to exercise its half of a mutual option on the 38-year-old after he underwent — you guessed it — Tommy John surgery late last year. It is surely worth it for Colorado to take a look, as Betancourt has largely been an outstanding reliever since breaking into the bigs at the late age of 28 back in 2003.
The Cardinals' Shelby Miller had an excellent rookie campaign with 15 victories (the most by any rookie) and the NL's tenth-best ERA at 3.06. But, the 23-year-old right-hander made only one appearance during the Cardinals' post-season run. During the team's annual Winter Warmup, Miller addressed the issue (as quoted by the Associated Press via ESPN.com). "I was a little upset I didn't pitch but I just put it away. I didn't want to dwell on the past and why I didn't pitch in October. I'm not worried about it anymore. I'm just going to let it be a mystery. A mystery unsolved." Miller added he felt fine physcially: no "better or worse than I did during the season." In other news and notes involving the Cardinals and the National League:
- The Cardinals have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 1999, but GM John Mozeliak admits it is a possibility with Daniel Descalso, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Descalso asked for $1.65MM while the Cardinals countered with $930K. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $1.2MM salary for Descalso.
- Also within Langosh's article, Mozeliak does not anticipate any contract extensions during Spring Training this year. The Cardinals have extended Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Allen Craig during the last two Spring Trainings.
- Jason Motte, the Cardinals' closer before undergoing Tommy John surgery last May, is heading to the Cardinals' training camp in Florida to continue his throwing program, Langosch tweets.
- The Nationals remain in the market for a backup catcher and that piece will likely come in a trade, according to MLB.com's William Ladson.
- There is a good chance reliever Rafael Betancourt returns to the Rockies, a source tells Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. The source adds Betancourt prefers Colorado because of his relationship with the club, but both sides are "trying to figure out the timing with his rehab" before coming to terms. The 38-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery last year leading the Rockies to decline his 2014 option, but is working on a comeback.
- Fourteen teams were on hand for Todd Coffey's showcase on Friday, tweets Cotillo. The right-handed reliever missed all of last year after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in 2012. Before being sidelined, the 33-year-old appeared in at least 57 games and pitched at least 51 innings in six of his previous seven seasons.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Homer Bailey says he does not want to leave the Reds, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. "To say that I 'want out of Cincinnati' is not true," says Bailey, who is eligible for free agency after the season. "If I am in the organization's future, my priorities are that things make sense for me on the business end, that we are a team that continues to be a highly competitive team in the league and a team that plays the game the right way." Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that extension negotiations with Bailey are on "hold," and Rosenthal writes that they may not pick up until there's more clarity on the free-agent pitching market. Here's more from throughout the big leagues.
- The Angels signed Mark Mulder because they were impressed with his new delivery, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, who describes in detail the series of events that led Mulder to begin a surprising comeback attempt after not pitching more than 11 innings in a big-league season since 2006. "I haven't had the ball come out of my hand like this in a very long time, and it's fun," says Mulder of his recent workouts. "I never threw like this in all my years in St. Louis. And I mean that. It was smoke and mirrors that first year in St. Louis. … My arm action was kind of deteriorating. And I'm gonna run with it. I'm gonna see what happens."
- Jeff Niemann and Sam Fuld would have interest in returning to the Rays, MLB.com's Sam Chastain writes. Niemann is rehabbing a shoulder injury and plans to be ready by mid-2014. The Rays non-tendered Fuld last month after he hit .199/.270/.267 in 200 plate appearances for them last year.
- Rafael Betancourt is making a comeback from Tommy John surgery, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. He believes he could pitch in 2014 despite only having the surgery only late last season. The Dodgers had interest in him as a free agent, but he wants to stay with the Rockies. "If I pitch again, it will be with the Rockies. I can’t see myself anywhere else at this point in my career. I have really enjoyed five years there," Betancourt says.
The Rockies announced on Twitter that they have declined their half of the $4.25MM mutual option on closer Rafael Betancourt's contract. The news comes as no surprise, as the 38-year-old recenly underwent potentially career-threatening Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
Betancourt pitched to a 4.08 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 28 2/3 innings this season, although that ERA was a noticeably stronger 2.93 prior to his final two outings in 2013. Betancourt missed time with a groin strain and an appendectomy this season, and injured his elbow immediately upon his return from the second DL stint. Betancourt allowed four earned runs over his next two appearances (totaling one inning) before the ligament tear was discovered.
As of late August, the 11-year Major League veteran was hoping to rehab from Tommy John surgery and attempt a comeback, although doing so will mean attempting to resurface in the Majors in 2015 at age 40.
FRIDAY, 9:20pm: Betancourt told a Venezuelan radio outlet that he will undergo surgery in an attempt to pitch again, according to a report in Mi Diairo passed along by MLB.com's Ian McCue.
TUESDAY, 11:03am: Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that a Monday MRI revealed the worst-case scenario for Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt: a complete tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament that will likely put an end to his 11-year Major League career.
For the time being, Betancourt will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in his elbow with the faint hope that it will help to form scar tissue that will allow him to pitch again. Should that method fail, Betancourt is likely to retire rather than undergo Tommy John surgery at this stage of his career.
Betancourt, who will turn 39 next April, has been a force in Colorado's bullpen since coming over from the Indians in a trade back in 2009. With the Rockies, he's tallied a 3.08 ERA with 9.0 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a pristine 1.007 WHIP. He's totaled 646 1/3 innings of 3.19 ERA ball with well over a strikeout per inning in a strong Major League career.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss described Betancourt as a "warrior" after talking with him following the MRI, and Renck writes that he's seen few players prepare harder for each day than Betancourt:
“That’s because I could take nothing for granted. Every day I had to prove myself,” said Betancourt, a converted minor-league infielder. “I wasn’t going to leave anything to chance.”
Betancourt's contract contains a $4.25MM mutual option that will obviously be declined, earning him a $250K buyout. Including that buyout, Betancourt will have earned roughly $23.3MM throughout his career when all is said and done.
Is there a more feared name in the sports world than Dr. James Andrews? This time it's the Braves and their fans' turn to be worried — the club tweeted that Brandon Beachy will miss his next start due to a sore right elbow and visit the famed sports surgeon on Monday. Beachy underwent Tommy John surgery on that same right arm in June 2012 and has made just five starts since returning from the injury.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- Rafael Betancourt left Thursday's game with an elbow injury and the Rockies are concerned the veteran reliever has a torn UCL, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports. That injury would require Tommy John surgery and could threaten the 38-year-old's career. Betancourt will make his third trip to the DL this season, effectively ending any chance that the righty will switch teams. The Rockies placed Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today.
- Dariel Alvarez has already advanced to the Orioles' high A-ball affiliate, though Baseball America's Ben Badler tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that scouts have questions about Alvarez's potential. "I don't think he was a very high-profile player for a lot of teams," Badler said. "I don't think there was a high level of interest in him. There are a lot of concerns about his hitting translating to game situations….He does have some occasional power, but there is a lot of question among scouts as to whether the hitting will translate against more advanced pitching." Badler felt that Alvarez's $800K bonus was surprisingly high and that Henry Urrutia (another up-and-coming Cuban outfielder in the O's system) is the much better prospect of the two.
- Signing relievers to multiyear deals continues to be a risky proposition, as Fangraphs' Dave Cameron breaks down how only four (arguably five) of the 13 relievers who signed such deals last winter have delivered good value to their teams.
- Jayson Werth's surprising age-34 season has been one of the few bright spots for the Nationals this year, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Werth hit .256/.349/.407 and battled injuries in the first two years of his seven-year, $126MM deal with the Nats, but the veteran has lived up this salary this season by posting a .938 OPS with 18 homers through 385 PA.
Ryan Braun today issued his first public statements since he accepted a 65-game suspension for PED use in connection with the Biogenesis scandal. The Brewers slugger issued one statement specifically to fans and another to the baseball world in general (both links to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). The latter statement outlined the circumstances of Braun's PED usage, some of the reasoning behind his public claims of playing clean and apologized to several parties, including Major League Baseball officials, the Brewers organization, his teammates, Dino Laurenzi Jr. (the urine test collector Braun disparaged in the appeal of his initial suspension in the 2011-12 offseason), baseball fans and any supporters who believed in his innocence. The statement includes this passage:
"I understand it's a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the Major League level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don't repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem."
Here's the latest from around the NL Central…
- The Cardinals are in need of pitching reinforcements and GM John Mozeliak is pessimistic that such help could be found on the trade or waiver market. Mozeliak told reporters (including Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that "trying to get help from the outside is going to be difficult for multiple reasons. Right now this team is going to have to find a way to do it from within."
- The Pirates have been patient with Pedro Alvarez's development and the young slugger has at least delivered in the power department, CBS Sports' Scott Miller writes. Alvarez has a .233/.296/.482 line with a league-leading 154 strikeouts in 477 PA, but his 31 homers is tied with Paul Goldschmidt for the National League lead.
- Javier Baez is having a huge minor league season but it seems unlikely that the Cubs will call up the star shortstop when rosters expand in September. Manager Dale Sveum praised Baez's season but he told reporters (including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) that while the front office has the final say on Baez's future, “I don’t see it happening.” Baez, the ninth overall pick of the 2011 draft, was rated as the 16th-best prospect in the sport by both Baseball America and MLB.com's preseason prospect rankings and has hit a combined .286/.348/.581 with 33 homers, 100 RBI and 19 steals in 531 PA at high-A ball and Double-A this year. Since Baez is only 20 and hasn't hit Triple-A yet, it makes sense that the Cubs aren't yet willing to start his service clock.
- With Jonathan Broxton out for the season, the Reds make a lot of sense as a suitor for Rafael Betancourt, The Denver Post's Troy Renck opines (Twitter link). The Rockies put Betancourt on revocable waivers earlier today. The veteran closer is owed roughly $785K for the remainder of the season and has a $4.25MM club option for 2014. Renck notes that the Rockies plan to exercise Betancourt's option, and they'll explore bringing him back in 2014 even if he leaves on a waiver deal for the remainder of this season.
- Rickie Weeks' future, international signings, pitching development, the Braun controversy and other Brewers-related topics are all addressed by Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in an online chat with readers.
- In NL Central news from earlier today, we learned that the Cubs plan to go after Shin-Soo Choo in free agency during the offseason.
Here's a look at players who have been placed on revocable waivers today…
- The Rockies have placed closer Rafael Betancourt on revocable waivers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Rosenthal notes that the Rockies fully plan on exercising their $4.25MM club option on the 38-year-old right-hander, so they'd need to receive a good offer to move him. Betancourt recently returned from a month-long stretch on the DL with a groin injury but has a solid 3.54 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 28 innings. Since joining the Rockies in 2009, Betancourt has a 3.02 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and an even 1.00 WHIP to go along with 57 saves. He'd be a welcome upgrade to any bullpen, but it seems unlikely that the Rockies would part with him after they held onto all of their trade chips prior to the non-waiver deadline.
For a reminder on how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR's August trades primer. You can see who is available to be traded to any team by checking MLBTR's list of players who have cleared waivers.
The Rockies (57-65) and Padres (54-67) are playing out the string on the 2013 season and already looking ahead to 2014. Here's the latest from these two NL West clubs…
- Rafael Betancourt is set to come off the disabled list and Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter link) speculates that the Rockies could put Betancourt on waivers to gauge trade interest in the closer. Colorado and Betancourt have a $4.25MM mutual option for 2014 and through the 38-year-old has two separate stints on the DL this year, he has still pitched effectively. With a younger and cheaper closing option in Rex Brothers, however, the Rockies may want to make a change.
- Dexter Fowler should be made available on the trade market this winter, The Denver Post's Mark Kiszla opines. Fowler is hitting .268/.376/.428 with 12 homers, 67 runs scored and 18 steals in 430 PA, and has spent time on the DL with hand and wrist injuries. As Kiszla notes, the Rockies shopped Fowler last offseason but didn't find any takers after asking for a big return. Fowler signed a two-year, $11.6MM deal with Colorado in February and the 27-year-old still has one final year of arbitration eligibility following the 2014 season.
- Chase Headley's disappointing season has left the Padres with a bit of a conundrum this winter, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Rumors have been rampant over the last year that the Padres would either sign Headley to a long-term extension or trade him, though the Padres would be selling low if the moved Headley now. Center speculates that the Padres might try to lock Headley up to a bargain of an extension and then re-explore the trade market if he returns to form next season.
- Also from Center, he notes as part of his weekly Padres chat that he expects the Padres actively pursue trades this winter. Center sees the Friars offering packages of a young pitcher and a position player, and says the club will certainly pursue corner outfield help. Third base could also be a possibility given Headley's situation.