Rafael Betancourt Rumors
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.
The Rockies have been scouting the Giants’ minor league teams, so a deal could be developing, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes (Twitter links). The Giants asked about acquiring Marco Scutaro for bench help a couple of weeks ago and relievers Rafael Betancourt and Matt Belisle could also interest San Francisco, Schulman writes. Here are more notes on the 37-60 Rockies...
- The Rockies don’t want to move Michael Cuddyer and are determined to keep Belisle, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes.
- Scutaro, Jason Giambi, Betancourt, Matt Reynolds and Jonathan Herrera are the most likely Rockies to be traded in that order, Heyman writes.
- The Rays, Nationals, Rangers and A’s appear to have interest in Scutaro, along with the Giants. Heyman reports that the Rockies could either seek a highly-regarded prospect for Scutaro or accept salary relief and a fringy prospect.
- Several teams have called about Reynolds, Heyman reports.
The chances of Cole Hamels getting traded are diminishing, but they haven't disappeared, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. The Phillies are trying to sign the left-hander to a long-term deal, but will weigh trade offers if they can’t agree on an extension. Here are Stark’s latest rumors...
- The Rays would be looking for a combination of high-end young pitchers, a young catcher and a controllable hitter if they discuss trades involving James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson. Wade Davis is drawing as much interest as Shields, now that he’s pitching well out of the Tampa Bay bullpen, Stark reports.
- The Astros have told rival teams that they’d absorb a substantial percentage of Wandy Rodriguez’s salary in a trade if it allows them to get “the best value back.”
- The Padres aren’t shopping Edinson Volquez, but they haven’t made him untouchable.
- Teams don’t expect the Marlins will trade Josh Johnson, who’s under contract for 2013.
- Brandon McCarthy’s history of shoulder problems diminishes his trade value. “He's not going anywhere," one executive predicted to Stark.
- The Nationals haven’t been focused on finding a center fielder.
- Hunter Pence is attracting as much interest as anyone on the Phillies, including Hamels. However, the Phillies have downplayed their interest in trading the right fielder. Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Placido Polanco and Kyle Kendrick would be available if the Phillies decide to sell this month, Stark reports. Rollins can veto any trade and would only accept deals to West Coast contenders.
- The Pirates have asked about tons of hitters, including Billy Butler, but they’re still in a “buy-low frame of mind.” The Royals have told clubs they’d have to be overwhelmed to part with Butler, Stark reports.
- The Rockies are trying to move Marco Scutaro and Jason Giambi, but they’d have to be “bowled over” to deal relievers such as Rafael Betancourt, Matt Belisle and Matt Reynolds.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.