Rafael Betancourt Rumors

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.

Quick Hits: Rockies, Pirates, Kuroda

Here's some late-night linkage as the Rays and Red Sox head to extras in Tampa …

Rockies Extend Rafael Betancourt

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.

Rockies Relievers Drawing Interest

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. 

Rockies Considering Selling, Shopping Cook

2:54pm: The Rockies had feelers out a week ago on names ranging from Adam Dunn to Dan Haren, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman says the Rockies are now "quietly shopping" Aaron Cook and are willing to help make the financial aspect work.  Cook is still owed $3.75MM this year if traded, plus $10.25MM for 2011, a $500K buyout for '12, and $125K per year if he reaches 200 innings.

7:51am: The Rockies are preparing for the possibility of becoming sellers, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  They've not yet committed to that course, but they're eight games back in the NL West.  But at 4.5 games out of the wild card, the Rockies still appear to have a legitimate playoff shot.  Baseball Prospectus' postseason odds report puts their chances at a healthy 23.4% despite a recent losing streak.

Rosenthal says the Rockies are still eyeing Jorge Cantu and could move Melvin Mora, Ryan Spilborghs, and/or Brad Hawpe regardless of their direction.  If the team's rough week continues and they start thinking about 2011, Jorge de la Rosa would be an interesting addition to the trade block.  Rosenthal names Aaron Cook, Rafael Betancourt, and Joe Beimel as other possibilities.

De La Rosa has made three starts since returning from the DL for a finger injury.  His last effort was solid, and he takes on the Pirates tonight.  He'll be a free agent after the season and currently profiles as a Type B.

Rockies Agree To Multi-Year Contracts With Street, Betancourt

MONDAY, 6:40pm: Troy Renck of the Denver Post has some updated incentive details on the Betancourt deal. He receives $50K for 40 games finished, another $50K at 45 and $100K at 50, 55 and 60 games finished.

TUESDAY, 12:50pm: The Rockies have agreed to multi-year contracts with righty relievers Huston Street and Rafael Betancourt, reports FoxSports.com's Tracy Ringolsby

Street, who was arbitration eligible for the third and final time, agreed to a three year deal worth $22.5MM with an option for a fourth year. The deal is still pending a physical, which Street will take this coming weekend. The former AL Rookie of the Year came over in the Matt Holliday deal last offseason, then saved 35 games and posted a 3.06 ERA in 61.2 innings while making $4.5MM during his first season in Colorado.

Betancourt agreed to a two year deal worth $3.775M per season. He accepted the team's offer of arbitration earlier this offseason after being designated as a Type-A free agent, though the Rockies first declined his $5.4MM option for 2010. The Rockies acquired him at mid-season from the Indians, and watched as he put up a 1.78 ERA with a 29-5 K/BB ratio in 25.1 innings down the stretch. He earned $3.35MM in 2009.

Odds & Ends: Lowe, Bay, Gonzalez

News and notes from around the big leagues tonight…

  • Derek Lowe tells MLB.com's Mark Bowman that he doesn't expect to be back in Atlanta in 2010 and feels rather disrespected by being put on the trade market just a year after signing with the Braves: "I would have never even considered going there if I knew that ultimately this was going to happen."
  • The Providence Journal's Joe McDonald considers Theo Epstein's comments from the Mike Cameron press conference to be a virtual farewell to Jason Bay's time in Boston.
  • As if the Mike Gonzalez and Garrett Atkins signings weren't enough, the Orioles also "made a pretty good run" at trading for Adrian Gonzalez at the winter meetings, tweets ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes.
  • Scott Merkin of MLB.com is reporting (via Twitter) that Jason Botts has been given an invitation to spring training by the White Sox.  Botts played in Japan last season after posting a .230/.325/.344 line in 326 plate appearances with Texas from 2005 to 2008.
  • MLB.com's Todd Zolecki (via Twitter) quoted Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. as saying "Right now, it doesn't look good," in regards to Chan Ho Park re-signing with Philadelphia.
  • ESPN's Jayson Stark talks with Baseball America's John Manuel about how the Phillies' farm system looks in the wake of the big Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee deal.
  • Jose Contreras wanted a three-year contract from the Rockies, but the club "didn't bite," reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com.  Harding notes that Colorado may have to wait to see what happens with Rafael Betancourt's possible arbitration case before they can make a move toward signing relievers like Contreras or Joe Beimel.
  • If the Nationals can't sign any relief help, they will move a willing Collin Balester into the bullpen, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
  • Jake Westbrook seems fit after his stint Puerto Rican Winter League, reports MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.  It was rumored that the Tribe would have been in the market for a veteran starter (maybe Carl Pavano) to anchor their staff had Westbrook suffered a setback from his Tommy John surgery in 2008.

Betancourt, Soriano, Pavano Accept Arbitration

The deadline for free agents to accept arbitration has come and gone, so let's recap them all here for one easy reference point:

Type-A Free Agents

Type-B Free Agents

Rafael Betancourt Accepts Arbitration

Rafael Betancourt accepted the Rockies' offer of arbitration, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. The reliever was a Type A free agent, so he would have cost other teams a pair of top draft picks. Accepting arbitration is safer than testing a market that's saturated with trade chips and free agents. Had Betancourt rejected the Rockies' offer, he would have risked becoming this year's Juan Cruz  – a player good enough to gain Type A status, but not good enough to give up top picks for.

The Rockies declined their $5.4MMM option for Betancourt earlier in the offseason. The righty should still be in line for a raise from the $3.35MM base salary he earned this year.

Rockies Make Multiyear Offers To Street, Barmes Iannetta

The Rockies have made multiyear offers to arbitration-eligible players Huston Street, Clint Barmes, and Chris Iannetta, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.  The details:

  • The Street negotiations are early, but the Rockies made a three-year offer.  That'd buy out one arbitration year and two free agent years.
  • Renck believes Barmes was offered "two years, with a club option for free agency."  That is, Barmes is already under team control for 2010 and 2011.
  • Iannetta's offer would "carry him to at least free agency."  Iannetta has three years of team control left.  That the Rockies are entertaining a multiyear deal is a vote of confidence despite their pursuit of various veteran free agent backstops.  The agents for Iannetta and Barmes have made counteroffers.
  • Renck says the Rockies will turn to LaTroy Hawkins (again) if Rafael Betancourt turns down their offer of arbitration tonight.  They're backing off on Justin Duchscherer.
  • Utility man targets include Fernando Tatis, Bobby Crosby, Jamey Carroll, and Nick Green.