Rafael Betancourt Rumors
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.
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.
Though Cubs closer Kevin Gregg seems a near-lock to be traded by tomorrow afternoon's deadline, we've heard little in the way of specific teams linked to him. However, the Rockies have had interest in Gregg, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post today.
The Rockies have "been prepared to act as a buyer and seller" as they sit 6.5 games out in the NL West, according to Renck. That explains their interest in bolstering the bullpen despite a willingness to listen on Josh Outman. Renck adds that while the Rockies are unlikely to trade injured closer Rafael Betancourt, it hasn't been ruled out. The 38-year-old is "slowly recovering from an appendectomy," writes Renck.
The trade deadline is just two weeks away, and with the All-Star Game in the rear-view mirror, Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio writes that the market will pick up rapidly beginning Friday. Here are some highlights from the highly informative article penned by the former GM of the Reds, Expos and Nationals (ESPN Insider required and recommended)...
- Bowden hears there's an 80 percent chance that Matt Garza will be traded before his next scheduled start (Monday or Tuesday of next week). The Rangers, Red Sox and Diamondbacks are still involved, He describes the D-backs as "dark horses," adding that their odds in the Garza sweepstakes would increase if they were willing to part with left-hander David Holmberg.
- The Rockies could also be interested in Garza, but they're not clear-cut buyers right now, and the prospective cost is prohibitive to them. If they were to sell, Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle could be had. Michael Cuddyer could be moved, but only if Colorado is "blown away."
- The White Sox have been "extremely disappointed" with offers for Alex Rios thus far. Bowden feels that offers will improve as the deadline draws closer.
- The Justin Morneau era in Minnesota is coming to an end, and the Twins are prepared to trade the former MVP, according to Bowden. The Rays, Pirates and Yankees are said by Bowden to be possible destinations for Morneau.
- The Cardinals, Reds, Dodgers and Braves have all inquired on Twins closer Glen Perkins and been turned away. Those four teams are all monitoring the health of Jesse Crain as well.
- The Yankees are trying to use Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and catching prospect J.R. Murphy to acquire a bat but have had no luck thus far. None of those players figure to interest the Twins in regards to Morneau, Bowden adds, given the impending free agency of Hughes and Chamberlain and the presence of Joe Mauer behind the plate for the Twins.
Links from the AL East, which remains the only division without a sub-.500 team...
- The Rays are 'cooler' on the idea of trading James Shields, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (onTwitter). It's difficult for Tampa Bay to act as a buyer because the positions at which they might seek upgrades, shortstop and catcher, are positions of scarcity in MLB.
- Ty Wigginton isn't at the top of the Yankees' list of potentially useful third basemen, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Yankees are looking for someone who can provide defense at the hot corner.
- The Yankees haven't contacted the Rockies about Rafael Betancourt, and it's doubtful the Rockies will trade him at all, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter). The Orioles, Athletics, Rangers,Braves, Red Sox and Blue Jays have all been linked to Betancourt.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees can't take on a substantial contract, so Bryan Hoch of MLB.com says Yankees fans shouldn't expect to see Cliff Lee in navy pinstripes anytime soon (Twitter links). Cashman said it's possible but unlikely that the Yankees will make a trade before tomorrow's deadline, Hoch writes. "I highly doubt it," the GM said.
- The Blue Jays are unlikely to complete a trade for Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Marlins expect to keep Johnson instead of trading him.
- Here are the latest Red Sox-related rumors.
6:26pm: Matt Reynolds is also drawing trade interest, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Reynolds, 27, has a 3.61 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 46.3 percent ground-ball rate in 42 1/3 innings of work this season.
6:15pm: Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Rangers, Braves, Red Sox and Blue Jays are all inquiring on Betancourt (Twitter link).
Sunday, 6:02pm: Betancourt continues drawing trade interest but nothing is imminent, according to Renck (Twitter link). It's probably fair to assume that several of the teams who are currently discussing Brandon League with the Mariners are also intrigued by Betancourt, though that's my own speculation. -- Steve Adams
Saturday: The Orioles, Yankees, and Athletics are among the teams with interest in Rockies reliever Rafael Betancourt according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post. The Red Sox had interest earlier this month and both the White Sox and Angels are digging around for bullpen help.
Betancourt, 37, has pitched to a 3.00 ERA and gone 17-for-21 in save chances. His strikeout (9.3 K/9) and walk (2.5 BB/9) rates are superb as usual. Betancourt is owned approximately $1.5M for the rest of the season and is under contract for $4.25MM next year. His deal includes a $4.25MM mutual option ($250K buyout) for 2014 as well.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.