Rafael Betancourt Rumors

Rockies Links: Guthrie, Scutaro, Betancourt, Nieves

The Rockies are one of the few teams in baseball who are firmly out of contention, and thus figure to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches.  Here's the latest on some of Colorado's top trade chips, courtesy of Troy Renck and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post…

  • Jeremy Guthrie's continued struggles are ruining the starter's trade value, writes Renck.  Guthrie has a 6.35 ERA in 19 games this season, including a whopping 9.50 ERA at Coors Field.  Renck suggests that the Rockies could limit Guthrie only to road starts in order to properly showcase him for any trade suitors.
  • Marco Scutaro has drawn interest from the Pirates and Rangers, reports Renck and Saunders, in addition to the Tigers' known interest in the veteran infielder.  Scutaro would be an upgrade over Clint Barmes at shortstop for the Pirates, and he would provide the Rangers with middle infield depth behind Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler.
  • The Braves and Red Sox have shown some interest in Rafael Betancourt.  We heard last month from ESPN's Buster Olney that the Rockies "would have to be overwhelmed" to deal Betancourt or Matt Belisle.
  • The Nationals have scouted Wil Nieves.  The catcher played for Washington from 2008-10 and has a .738 OPS in 51 plate appearances for Colorado after signing a minor league deal with the Rockies in December.  Nieves is on the DL with a turf toe injury.  The Nats also asked about Colorado's Ramon Hernandez as they continue to look for catching help.
  • Scouts say the Rockies want pitching back in any deal.

Quick Hits: Rockies, Mets, Giants, Blue Jays

The Blue Jays designated Edwin Encarnacion for assignment on this date two years ago, and he cleared waivers two days later once the 29 other MLB teams had passed on him. Encarnacion now has 20 homers and a .283/.351/.574 slash line, so he's making a strong case for inclusion in next month's All-Star Game. Here are today’s links…

  • The Rockies would have to be overwhelmed to trade Rafael Betancourt or Matt Belisle, so deals are highly unlikely, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). Teams don't generally view the Rockies as a team with lots of assets to trade, according to Olney.
  • The Mets are going to wait a few weeks before "digging into" the trade market, Olney tweets.
  • GM Brian Sabean told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that the Giants identified Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan as trade targets this past offseason because, in spite of their flaws, they’re both impact MLB players. “We're talking about switch-hitters who can hit almost anywhere in the lineup, play all three outfield positions and help you on both sides of the ball. There's a lot to like," Sabean said. Check out Crasnick’s piece for a detailed look at how the Giants scouted and built their new-look outfield.
  • The Blue Jays have been telling teams they can’t take on any salary, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).

Rockies Agree To Extend Rafael Betancourt

The Rockies and Rafael Betancourt have agreed to a contract extension, the team announced (on Twitter). Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the deal guarantees Betancourt's $4.25MM mutual option for 2013, and adds an option at the same salary for 2014. The Octagon client will earn $4MM in 2012 as part of his current contract.

"Basically, the Rockies executed the mutual option I had in my contract for 2013 and added another in 2014, which guarantees me work for the next two years and the possibility of a third followed in Colorado," said Betancourt. "I prefer [security] first, I am happy the deal."

Betancourt, 37 in April, remains one of baseball's best late-game relievers. He pitched to a 2.89 ERA in 2011 with 10.5 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings, saving eight games while Huston Street was on the disabled list. During his two and a half years in Colorado, Betancourt has pitched to a 3.00 ERA with 11.5 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 150 innings.

Betancourt is expected to close for the Rockies in 2013 following the trade of Street to the Padres. Check out RotoAuthority's Closer Depth Chart for your fantasy bullpen needs.

Bullpen Notes: Red Sox, Street, Rangers

Closernews.com offers fantasy analysis of relievers all offseason long and we’ll also be keeping detailed tabs on the relief market here at MLBTR. Now for the latest hot stove notes regarding relievers… 

  • The Red Sox talked to Joe Nathan, but never made him an offer, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Boston was uncomfortable offering the closer a multiyear deal partly because he's 37.
  • The Rockies are trying to move Huston Street because they believe Rafael Betancourt can close for them, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter links). Renck expects the Rockies to attempt to acquire a starter such as Jeremy Guthrie or Carl Pavano for Street.
  • The bullpen remains the Rangers’ top priority, GM Jon Daniels told reporters, including Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest (Twitter link).
  • The Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Reds, Marlins, Blue Jays and Mets are among the teams with potential interest in closers, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).

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 Intend To Keep Rafael Betancourt

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.

Rosenthal On Jimenez, Red Sox, Rockies, Beltran

In the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal, we learn how this year's trade deadline could have turned out drastically different..

D’Backs Working To Acquire Reliever

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).

Angels Seeking Sixth/Seventh-Inning Type Reliever

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.

Rockies Rumors: Jimenez, Wigginton

The Rockies are 11 games back in the NL West, so it's time to consider selling various pieces.  The latest: