Rafael Betancourt Rumors

NL West Links: Betancourt, Venable, Hall

The Dodgers‘ losing streak extended to five games after dropping a 3-2 result to the Astros today.  It was another rough outing for the struggling Los Angeles bullpen, as Kenley Jansen blew a save by allowing Houston to tie the game in the ninth, and Chris Hatcher picked up the loss after giving up a 10th-inning walkoff homer to Jason Castro.  Entering Sunday, Dodgers relievers had combined for a 6.00 ERA since the All-Star break, the second-worst bullpen ERA of any club in the second half.  Here’s some more from around the NL West…

  • Rafael Betancourt was designated for assignment by the Rockies earlier today, and the veteran reliever told reporters (including MLB.com’s Thomas Harding) that he’s at peace with the fact that his 12-year career could be over.  He isn’t too optimistic about another team picking him up, saying “I don’t see any team that’s a contender right now that is looking to” acquire a struggling 40-year-old.  Betancourt may be a little hard on himself; several ERA indicators (3.32 FIP, 4.27 xFIP and 3.67 SIERA) show that he’s pitching much better than his 6.18 ERA would imply, and his velocity, strikeouts and walk rates are around his career averages.  Betancourt has been hurt by a .328 BABIP and a stunningly low 52.6% strand rate over his 39 1/3 innings of work.
  • The Dodgers declined to claim Will Venable on trade waivers, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets.  Los Angeles is rather deep with outfield options but, as Morosi notes, the Dodgers could’ve used Venable in center with Joc Pederson struggling.  The Dodgers were hardly alone in passing on Venable, who went through waivers and then garnered interest from several teams.  The Padres dealt Venable to the Rangers last week.
  • The Diamondbacks are eager to make an impact in Japan both marketing-wise and in terms of player acquisitions, team president Derrick Hall told Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times.  “For us, we’ve always looked to be identified with someone in Japan.  We’re still hoping to find that talent one day,” Hall said.  “It’s a dream of mine personally to have a Japanese player in a D’Back uniform, as well as a Mexican-born player who can have an impact. Because I’ve seen what a difference that makes having grown up and cut my own teeth in the Dodgers organization all those years. Of course I was around during the time of Nomo-san and Nomomania and that was electric.”
  • Hall, Tony La Russa, Randy Johnson and Luis Gonzalez recently traveled to Japan on a goodwill tour on the Diamondbacks’ behalf, and while they weren’t specifically there to scout players, they did see Kenta Maeda and Shohei Otani pitch in NPB action.  Arizona was one of several teams linked to Maeda last offseason before the righty decided to re-sign with the Hiroshima Carp.  Maeda could be posted this winter, while Otani is just 21 and it’ll be at least a few seasons before the Nippon Ham Fighters consider making him available to North American teams.  Hall said the D’Backs are “going to be aggressive” on signing talent they believe in, though given the large fees involved in signing top-flight Japanese talent, “it makes it more difficult for teams like us in smaller markets.  When we write that big a check, we cannot miss. We’ve gotta be right.”

Rockies Designate Rafael Betancourt For Assignment

Rockies skipper Walt Weiss says Rafael Betancourt has been designated for assignment, Thomas Harding of MLB.com tweets.  The Rockies manager also wondered aloud if Betancourt could be picked up by another team in the next ten days.

Weiss went on to call Betancourt a “warrior” and he said that his conversation with the veteran right-hander was tough (link).  Weiss said that he admired the way Betancourt came back from Tommy John surgery and gave him a tip of the cap for his Rockies career.

In 45 games for the Rockies this season, Betancourt has struggled, pitching to a 6.18 ERA, although his 9.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 rates are not that far off from his career numbers.  Betancourt was a fixture in the Rockies’ bullpen for many years, finishing out 136 games over parts of six seasons.  In his 12 total MLB seasons with the Indians and Colorado, Betancourt owns a 3.36 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.

To follow the status of Betancourt and other players in DFA limbo, check out MLBTR’s DFA Tracker.


Added To The 40-Man Roster: Thursday

With rosters being finalized around the league, it’s a busy time for players departing and ascending to the 40-man roster. Here’s the latest:

  • The Twins announced that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Shane Robinson, who had been in camp on a Minor League deal. The 30-year-old Robinson had previously spent his entire career in the Cardinals organization and will presumably serve as the right-handed half of a center field platoon with Jordan Schafer. Minnesota entered Spring Training hoping that Aaron Hicks would show progress and win the center field job outright, but he struggled throughout the month and was optioned to Triple-A, paving the way for Robinson to make the roster. In parts of five seasons with St. Louis, Robinson is a .231/.303/.308 hitter in 452 plate appearances. He’s received strong marks at all three outfield spots, per UZR and DRS, and he hit .283/.340/.370 in Grapefruit League action this year.

Earlier Updates

  • The Reds are set to add several veterans to their 40-man roster, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Veteran righties Kevin Gregg and Jason Marquis will be joined by reserves Brennan Boesch and Chris Dominguez on the Opening Day roster, and all will need a 40-man spot. That crunch already led the team to outright reliever Sam LeCure, and several other slots will need to be created before things are official.
  • The Rockies have selected the contract of right-hander Rafael Betancourt, the team announced last night (on Twitter). Betancourt, who will turn 40 at the end of this month, has gone through a somewhat remarkable comeback, recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent as a 38-year-old to return to the 40-man roster. The former Rox closer has had an excellent spring, yielding just one run on eight hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. He adds another arm with closing experience to what is looking like a fairly murky bullpen situation in Colorado. It’s worth mentioning that setup man Rex Brothers was optioned to Triple-A and won’t be a factor in the ‘pen in the season’s early stages.


West Notes: Gallardo, Betancourt, Beachy

The Rangers acquired Yovani Gallardo in the offseason with the idea that he’d be a mid-rotation starter, but with Yu Darvish‘s injury and Derek Holland‘s shoulder trouble, it looks like the team could depend on Gallardo to start Opening Day, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes. It’s not as if Gallardo can’t handle the assignment, of course, only that Texas’ best laid plans have gone awry. “The guy started five straight Opening Days for Milwaukee,” says GM Jon Daniels. “But it’s not what we had in mind.” Here’s more from the West divisions.

  • Former closer Rafael Betancourt is competing for the last spot in the Rockies‘ bullpen, Nick Groke of the Denver Post writes. Last year, the 39-year-old found himself rehabbing in rookie ball after having Tommy John surgery in 2013. That wasn’t an easy assignment for a longtime MLB veteran, either, given that the Rockies’ Grand Junction team is in the Pioneer League, a brutal league for travel. The Rockies re-signed Betancourt to a minor-league deal in the offseason. Groke notes that he’s competing against Brooks Brown, Tommy Kahnle and Jairo Diaz, all of whom have options.
  • Dodgers pitcher Brandon Beachy took another step toward returning from his own Tommy John surgery Tuesday, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. He threw off a mound, then had a long session in which he worked on his mechanics. The Dodgers signed Beachy in February to a one-year deal with an option, and Gurnick notes that it looks like he could return to action sometime around the All-Star break. The cost of the Dodgers’ option ranges from $3MM-$6MM and will depend on how much Beachy can pitch before the end of the season.

Rockies Sign Rafael Betancourt, Omar Quintanilla

The Rockies have re-signed former closer Rafael Betancourt and also added shortstop Omar Quintanilla, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. It appears that the pair will head to camp on minor league deals.

Betancourt is entering his age-40 season. He came back from Tommy John surgery in late 2013 to throw 19 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, and he will surely hope for another crack at the bigs this time around. Betancourt has been excellent since joining the Rockies back in 2009, contributing 236 1/3 innings of 3.08 ERA bullpen work with 10.5 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9. He racked up 57 saves in that span.

Quintanilla, 33, will return to the place where he first cracked the show (back in 2005). He has bounced around a bit since, most recently appearing with the Mets. Despite a lifetime .220/.287/.295 slash, Quintanilla has taken 1,162 trips to the plate at the MLB level over parts of nine seasons. As one might expect, Quintanilla has spent the bulk of his time playing at short and second, though he has also logged a few innings at third.


NL West Notes: Padres, D’Backs, Betancourt, Stauffer

Padres assistant general manager Josh Stein recently sat down with Chris Bauer of PadresPublic.com for a lengthy and insightful interview that’s worth reading not only for Friars fans, but for anyone interested in player evaluation, scouting and the ever-growing role of analytics in front offices. Stein discusses the building of the Padres’ player information database and the importance of blending live scouting, video and statistical data. “Player evaluation ultimately is a decision,” said Stein. “Like any decision you make, you’re going to have a number of pieces of information to take into account. … Some of those pieces of information will be easier to explain with words based on an experience and some will be easier to quantify with numbers.”

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer press speculates that if the D’Backs hire Dave Stewart as their GM — which appears to be a near-certainty — and look outside the organization for a new manager, Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach would be a logical candidate (Twitter link). As Berardino notes, the 52-year-old Steinbach has a longstanding relationship with both Stewart and D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa. Steinbach, a three-time All-Star as a player, was Stewart’s catcher in the late 80s and early 90s on an A’s team that was, of course, managed by La Russa.
  • Rafael Betancourt is already planning on playing in 2015, and the Rockies are open to having him back, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Harding spoke with Rockies skipper Walt Weiss about the possibility of bringing Betancourt back as a free agent, who said that Betancourt’s makeup alone makes him a desirable target. Betancourt, who will turn 40 next April, spent four-and-a-half seasons with Colorado from 2009-13, compiling a strong 3.08 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 57 saves. He spent 2014 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery with the Rockies after signing a minor league deal.
  • Tim Stauffer would like to return to a starting role in 2015, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock, and as such, he knows that there’s a good chance that his 11-year tenure with the Padres is coming to an end. The 32-year-old Stauffer was selected fourth overall in 2003, and while his career hasn’t been as high-profile as his draft slot would indicate, he’s quietly tallied a 3.38 ERA over 477 Major League innings dating back to 2009. A pair of surgeries have cost him some innings since establishing himself as a capable big league arm, which, paired with San Diego’s glut of pitching, has led to a bullpen role for him over the past two seasons.

Rockies Sign Rafael Betancourt

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.


NL West Notes: Jobe, Maybin, Headley, Betancourt

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.

NL Notes: Cardinals, Nationals, Betancourt, Coffey

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.


Quick Hits: Bailey, Mulder, Rays, Betancourt

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.