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Rafael Betancourt Rumors
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' setup man Rafael Betancourt picked up his first save of the season last night, filling in for a banged up Huston Street, and it sounds like he'll be around much longer if needed. ESPN's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that Colorado intends to keep Betancourt this month rather than move him in a waiver trade.
Betancourt, 36, owns a 3.61 ERA in 47 1/3 innings this season, but his peripheral stats are much more impressive: 10.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9. That's actually worse than last year, when he posted an identical 3.61 ERA, but with better strikeout (12.9 K/9) and walk (1.2 BB/9) numbers. Betancourt is under contract for $4MM next season with a $4.25MM mutual option for 2013 ($250K buyout).
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes identified Betancourt as one of several players on the Rockies that could be candidates for a waiver trade this month. Make sure you check out Closer News for all your fantasy bullpen needs.
In the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal, we learn how this year's trade deadline could have turned out drastically different..
- The Rockies wanted five of Boston's top prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez: Will Middlebrooks, Kyle Weiland, Josh Reddick, Felix Doubront, and Ryan Lavarnway. The Red Sox would have gotten more than just Jimenez in return as Rosenthal tweets that the Rockies offered Jimenez and outfielder Seth Smith in return for the quintet of prospects. There were other possible fits in such a deal including Ryan Spilborghs, Chris Iannetta, and Rafael Betancourt.
- The Rangers had enough prospects to get Carlos Beltran in addition to Koji Uehara and Mike Adams at the deadline. To do that, they would have needed to take either Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland out of the Adams deal as the Mets are fond of both. Rosenthal was told that one of the two pitchers was in the offer for Beltran.
- The Indians traded their two best pitching prospects to land ace Ubaldo Jimenez but the deal wasn't just for this season. Cleveland is mindful of the big picture and they have their key pieces locked up for the next few years. Jimenez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Shin-Soo Choo are under control for the next two seasons while Justin Masterson and Chris Perez are under control for the next three. If the Tribe doesn't win in the next few years, they can always flip some of those players for prospects.
SUNDAY, 12:43am: The Diamondbacks have a list of 7 or 8 relievers they are still pursuing and they're almost certain to come away with one, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, Arizona doesn't like their chances of landing Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter).
SATURDAY, 11:07pm: D’Backs GM Kevin Towers says he’s looking at everything (bullpen, bench, starting pitching) and could take on salary under the right circumstances, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (Twitter links).
9:13pm: The D'Backs are still working to acquire a reliever and it sounds as though they expect to complete a deal, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter). The D'Backs acquired starting pitcher Jason Marquis earlier tonight.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links) reported earlier this evening that Arizona remains interested in relief help, including Jason Isringhausen. However, Isringhausen has said the Mets have told him they won't trade him, according to Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger (on Twitter).
4:10pm: Manager Mike Scioscia said he and GM Tony Reagins haven't discussed Betancourt as a possible solution, according to Kevin Baxter of the LA Times. Scioscia said Reagins always runs players past him before acquiring them.
1:34pm: The Angels seek a right-handed sixth-or-seventh-inning kind of arm in the Chad Qualls mold, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times has similar feelings, tweeting that their best chance is to get a non-closer along the lines of Qualls, Rafael Betancourt, or Koji Uehara. Earlier, ESPN's Jim Bowden tweeted that the Angels are "working hard on Uehara trade talks" with the Orioles. Of course, Uehara has better numbers than just about any available reliever.
The Rockies are 11 games back in the NL West, so it's time to consider selling various pieces. The latest:
- The Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Reds scouted Ubaldo Jimenez's start yesterday in Arizona, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post tweets that nothing has changed since his column yesterday – the Reds and Yankees make the most sense, with the Rangers, Red Sox, and Tigers lurking. At that point, Renck wrote that the price is huge – at least three players – but the Rockies "haven't pulled Jimenez off the showroom floor."
- The Pirates have interest in Ty Wigginton, tweets Renck. Wigginton, who played for the Bucs from 2004-05, is a good source of righthanded pop at the corners.
- Right-handed relievers Rafael Betancourt and Matt Lindstrom are also trade candidates, tweets Renck.
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.
Here's some late-night linkage as the Rays and Red Sox head to extras in Tampa …
- The Rockies are drawing interest from trade suitors on outfielder Ryan Spilborghs and reliever Rafael Betancourt, and some teams have recently inquired about closer Huston Street, writes Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com. Spilborghs is a free agent at season's end, while Betancourt and Street are both under contract through 2012 with options for 2013.
- The Pirates are looking for bats and have checked with the Athletics on Josh Willingham and Conor Jackson, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- The Dodgers are getting "a lot of play" on right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter). Kuroda, however, has a full no-trade clause, and as we found out earlier today, some execs think he won't accept a trade to an East Coast team.
The Rockies have signed Rafael Betancourt to an extension that will keep him in Denver through 2012 according to ESPN's Enrique Rojas (Spanish link). Troy Renck of the Denver Post adds that the one-year extension carries a mutual $4.25MM option with it.
Betancourt, 36 in April, was already under contract for 2011 at $3.77MM. The new deal guarantees him $4MM in 2012, and there's a $250K buyout on Colorado's half of the mutual option. If Betancourt declines his half of the deal, there's no buyout. If he's traded, the buyout becomes guaranteed.
The Rockies acquired Betancourt prior to the 2009 trade deadline in exchange for minor leaguer Connor Graham, and he's been nothing short of oustanding in their bullpen. Since the trade, the right-hander owns a 3.08 ERA and has fanned more than 12 hitters per nine innings while walking less than two per nine.
A handful of teams have scouted the Rockies' bullpen to check in on Joe Beimel and Rafael Betancourt, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter). The Red Sox are among the teams that have considered the Rockies relievers, but they aren't the only interested team. The Phillies and three or four other clubs have shown interest in Beimel, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links).
Renck gets the impression from GM Dan O'Dowd that the Rockies will be open to making deals in August (Twitter link). So far, the Rockies haven't decided whether to buy, sell or tinker before Saturday's trade deadline. It's important to note that Huston Street, one of the team's best relievers, was taken to the hospital after getting struck by a line drive in batting practice yesterday.