Ronald Belisario Rumors

Rays Select Contract Of Ronald Belisario

TODAY: The Rays have selected Belisario’s contract, Topkin tweets. That decision was likely made easier by the fact that the club burned through multiple arms in a tough game tonight. Indeed, to create roster space the club optioned C.J. Riefenhauser, who went 2 1/3 innings in the loss (after throwing in the two prior games).

YESTERDAY: Rays pitcher Ronald Belisario has triggered his opt-out clause, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter links). The provision affords the club until Wednesday to decide whether to promote the reliever, per the report.

As Topkin notes, the veteran righty has thrown well at Triple-A and seems a reasonable bet to receive a promotion. Acting as the closer at Triple-A Durham, Belisario has racked up 17 saves with a 3.26 ERA and 5.3 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 in 30 1/3 innings.

Belisario struggled last year with the White Sox, but has had success at times in prior years with the Dodgers. All said, he has thrown 331 1/3 big league innings, posting a 3.75 lifetime ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.


East Notes: Hart, Hardy, Belisario

John Hart had to be persuaded to take over the Braves GM job, but team president John Schuerholz is excited about the work Hart and likely successor John Coppolella have done so far, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “The combination of John Hart and John Coppolella has been dynamic, absolutely dynamic,” says Schuerholz. “The work those two have done, in tandem, has been sensational.” This offseason, Hart and Coppolella have traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis in an attempt to add young talent. The timing was right for the Braves to re-tool, Hart says. “The Nationals are in their perfect window right now. The Marlins are getting better. If you’re going to take, if you will, sort of a regroup year, this would be a good one.

  • When J.J. Hardy traded power to remain in the everyday lineup last season, he may have hurt his earning potential. Hardy is unsure if he would have re-signed with the Orioles had he not dealt with a painful back injury last season, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore inked Hardy to a three-year, $40MM extension during the playoffs last year. Hardy was aware of the trials suffered by Stephen Drew and former teammate Nelson Cruz in the previous offseason. Qualifying offers to both players left clubs wary about signing them. Hardy opted to forgo the experience entirely, although he also says he’s happy in Baltimore.
  • Rays non-roster invitee Ronald Belisario injured himself climbing out of a pool earlier in the winter, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The reliever fractured his non-throwing shoulder prior to signing with the Rays a month ago. He didn’t have the injury checked out until he reported to camp. Belisario is on a split contract that would pay $1.5MM if he makes the team. Since he won’t be on the field for at least two weeks, his chances of breaking camp with the team look small. This injury probably explains why his deal with the Blue Jays fell through.

Pitching Notes: Zito, Belisario, Twins

Former AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito is throwing for  “select group” of teams on Tuesday, agent Scott Boras tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Zito, who sat out the 2014 season, is eyeing a return to the game and hopes to sign with a team before Spring Training. He last followed up a respectable 2012 season with a dismal 2013 campaign, pitching to a 5.74 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 133 1/3 innings for the Giants.

Here are a few more pitching notes from around the game:

  • Ronald Belisario‘s contract with the Rays can max out at $1.8MM if he reaches all of his incentives, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Belisario inked a minor league pact with the Rays over the weekend just days after a similar deal with the Blue Jays fell through. The right-hander will compete for a spot in Tampa’s bullpen this spring.
  • The Twins are open to adding some relief help, according to previous reports, but Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the team isn’t showing interest in righty David Aardsma at this time. The former Mariners closer, who enjoyed a strong season with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014, will audition for clubs next Monday.
  • Speaking of the Twins‘ bullpen, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger did his best to sort out the many candidates in his latest Twins Inbox column. In addition to his take on who is most likely to comprise Minnesota’s relief corps in 2015, Bollinger notes that offseason signee Tim Stauffer will get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation, despite the fact that most believed he was signed as a bullpen addition.


Rays Sign Ronald Belisario To Minor League Deal

The Rays have signed free agent reliever Ronald Belisario to a minor league deal, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Belisario was recently tied to the Blue Jays, although their reported deal fell through yesterday. Per Topkin (also Twitter), the Rays have been in contact with Belisario for awhile. He will compete for one of two open spots in the bullpen.

The 32-year-old reliever was designated for assignment by the White Sox earlier in the offseason. He was one of several temporary closers for Chicago, although he struggled in the role. Before being cut loose by the White Sox, Belisario was in line to earn $3.9MM via arbitration, according to MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.

While he posted an unsightly 5.56 ERA last season, advanced stats painted a sunnier picture (3.54 FIP, 3.22 SIERA). The righty is a ground ball specialist with a career rate above 60 percent. Belisario dealt with a high .339 BABIP and low 57.5% strand rate last season, which contributed to his ugly ERA.

It’s possible that Tampa offered a better opportunity than Toronto for Belisario. As Topkin points out, the Rays have two open spots in the bullpen. Tropicana field is also substantially more pitcher friendly than the Rogers Centre.


Deal Between Blue Jays, Belisario Falls Through

JAN. 30: The deal between Belisario and the Blue Jays has fallen through, reports Mike Wilner of Sportsnet (on Twitter). The two sides were very close to a deal before it fell apart. Belisario remains a free agent.

JAN. 29: The Blue Jays added some depth to their bullpen mix today, agreeing to a minor league contract with right-hander Ronald Belisario. Toronto has long been said to be looking at bullpen upgrades, with reports last night suggesting that the team was looking hard at the free agent market. Though Belisario’s spot isn’t guaranteed, the McNamara Sports Group client will compete for a job in Spring Training and will reportedly earn $1.7MM if he makes the team.

Belisario, 32, was designated for assignment back in November by the White Sox to make way for the claim of Onelki Garcia. He was one of several players to slot in at closer last year in Chicago, but failed to grab hold of the job. Belisario was ultimately charged with an unsightly 5.56 ERA on the year.

Though the bottom-line results weren’t pretty, Belisario’s peripherals are decidedly better. With 6.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, and a stellar 59.3% groundball rate, Belisario drew marks from ERA estimators in the low-to-mid three range. His ballooned run tallies may well have been the result of a very low 57.7% strand rate and a somewhat bloated .339 BABIP.

Belisario had been projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $3.9MM in arbitration before losing his roster spot in advance of the non-tender deadline. Toronto saw former closer Casey Janssen lured away with a total $5MM guarantee, though the club is said to have about that much in remaining payroll space.

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported, on Twitter, that the Jays were making a strong push for Belisario. ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported the agreement and terms (Twitter links).


Free Agent Notes: Moncada, Olivera, Belisario, Santana, Zito

While he awaits clearance from the government, Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada is putting on showcases for interested teams. The Yankees have already put the 19-year-old through the paces, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. In addition to New York and the previously-reported Giants, Moncada has worked out for the BrewersRangersRed Sox, and Padres, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Meanwhile, the DodgersRaysCubs, and Phillies have shown interest. For their part, the Twins will not seek a private workout because they believe the bidding will go too high, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

Here are some more free agent notes:

  • Fellow Cuban second bagger Hector Olivera will begin a two-day open showcase in the Dominican Republic tomorrow, Badler reports on Twitter. Olivera figures to be more of an immediate contributor than the younger Moncada.
  • Clubs interested in righty Ronald Belisario, as with Burke Badenhop, include the Blue Jays and Nationals, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 32-year-old has run up solid innings totals over each of the last three years, but has seen his ERA steadily move north during that stretch. On the other hand, ERA estimators have viewed him as a solidly average performer in each of those seasons, with a low strand rate likely causing most of his troubles in 2014.
  • The YankeesBlue Jays, and Padres are three of the approximately six teams pursuing lefty Johan Santana, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. An upcoming Venezuelan league start could have some bearing on where the one-time ace ends up.
  • Another prominent lefty is plotting his comeback as well. Per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), Barry Zito still plans to return to baseball after a year off and will put on a showcase this spring. The 36-year-old last threw in 2013, working to a career-worst 5.74 ERA over 133 1/3 innings.

Free Agent Notes: Melky, Ervin, Headley, Miller, Soto

The Royals have reached out to a familiar name in the form of Melky Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s not clear if the Royals are able to afford Cabrera, who is said by Heyman to be seeking “at least” a five-year deal. He notes that the Reds have also contacted Cabrera’s camp. Additionally, Heyman lists the Mariners, Orioles and White Sox as speculative fits. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that the Blue Jays are still in touch with Cabrera as well. As many have pointed out, Toronto has just three outfielders on its 40-man roster at present. I profiled Cabrera in early October and projected a five-year deal worth just over $66MM.

Some more notes from the free agent market…

  • Also seeking a five-year deal is right-hander Ervin Santana, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. Santana is among the best of the bunch in the second tier of free agent starters, and he’s been rumored to have mutual interest with the Royals. However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Royals’ comfort level is at three years with Santana. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes projected a four-year, $56MM contract for Santana.
  • Continuing on the theme of five-year contracts, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees aren’t willing to give Chase Headley a five-year deal, and it’s believed by some that five years is now his asking price in the wake of both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez signing in Boston. An alternative for the Yankees, Matthews writes, is to play Martin Prado at third base regularly and give prospect Rob Refsnyder a chance to be the everyday second baseman.
  • The Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are all continuing to show strong interest in free agent lefty Andrew Miller, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Miller is believed to be headed for a four-year deal, and the Astros have been somewhat surprisingly linked to him and fellow top reliever David Robertson.
  • Geovany Soto is currently talking to five or six teams, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. A reunion between Soto and the Rangers is a definite possibility, per Cotillo. The free agent market for catchers has few options remaining, putting Soto in a relatively good spot.
  • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that 10 teams, including the Tigers, have reached out to free agent righty Ronald Belisario after he was designated for assignment by the White Sox and chose to elect free agency (Twitter link). Belisario has a track record of success but struggled in 2014 despite maintaining his velocity and ground-ball rate.
  • Nyjer Morgan is eyeing a return to the Majors and has drawn interest from both MLB and Asian clubs, tweets Cotillo. The 34-year-old spent a bit of time with the Indians last season but had his Cleveland tenure cut short by injury.

Ronald Belisario Elects Free Agency

Right-hander Ronald Belisario has elected free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin tweeted earlier today.

Belisario, 32 on New Year’s Eve, pitched 66 1/3 innings for the White Sox in 2014, though he struggled to a 5.56 ERA with a below-average mark of 6.4 K/9. However, Belisario also posted a strong 2.4 BB/9 with an outstanding 59.3 percent ground-ball rate, leading metrics such as FIP (3.54) and SIERA (3.22) to feel that he was experienced some particularly poor luck. He did see his BABIP spike to a career-worst .339, and his 57.7 percent strand rate was well below both the league average and his career mark (69.9%).

Belisario has been a fixture in a big league bullpen in each of the past three seasons, averaging 68 innings per year with the White Sox and Dodgers. FIP and xFIP have graded him pretty consistently throughout his career and both feel he’s capable of an ERA in the 3.60 range, while SIERA (3.22) is a bit more bullish.


Minor Moves: Pena, Boyer, Gutierrez, Swarzak, Belisario, Kohn

Some minor moves from around the league…

  • Also outrighted today was Ramiro Pena of the Braves, per the MLB.com transactions page. The utility man was designated recently, presumably in large part due to his rising arbitration salary.
  • Righty Blaine Boyer (Padres), Anthony Swarzak (Twins), and Juan Gutierrez (Giants) have elected free agency rather than accepting outright assignments, also via the MLB transactions page.
  • The White Sox have outrighted righty Ronald Belisario, per the MLB.com transactions page. Belisario was designated recently to make room for the claim of reliever Onelki Garcia.
  • Likewise, the Rays have outrighted righty Michael Kohn. It has been an odd start to the offseason for Kohn, who was signed to a MLB deal before being designated within weeks by Tampa.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reported a number of new transactions in his weekly Minor League Transactions roundup on Monday. Of particular note is a crop of Phillies signings: catcher Koyie Hill, right-hander Paul Clemens, and infielders Chase d’Arnaud and Cord Phelps. Clemens gives them some pitching depth, as he’s totaled 98 innings with the Astros over the past two seasons, albeit with a 5.51 ERA.
  • Also from Eddy, the Reds have inked outfielder Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract. The 29-year-old Boesch hit .269/.330/.436 in 248 games with the Tigers from 2010-11, but since that time, he’s batted just .237/.277/.376 in 635 plate appearances with the Tigers, Yankees and Angels.
  • The Tigers have announced that outfielder Ezequiel Carrera has elected free agency rather than accepting an assignment to Triple-A after being outrighted (Twitter link). The 27-year-old hit .261/.301/.348 in 73 plate appearances with Detroit this season and is a lifetime .253/.305/.340 hitter in the Majors. Carrera hasn’t hit much in 478 big league PAs, but he brings some speed and solid baserunning to the table and is capable of handling all three outfield spots.

White Sox Claim Onelki Garcia, Designate Ronald Belisario, Outright Jared Mitchell

The White Sox have designated reliever Ronald Belisario for assignment, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. The club also claimed lefty Onelki Garcia from the Dodgers and outrighted outfielder Jared Mitchell, per the Tribune’s Colleen Kane (Twitter links).

Garcia is an intriguing pick-up for Chicago. The 25-year-old has only limited big league experience, but has already racked up over a year of service time due to injury. But he has one solid season under his belt in the upper minors, back in 2012, and his live arm was intriguing enough that Baseball America rated him the Dodgers’ ninth-best prospect heading into 2014 in spite of his having undergone an elbow procedure. As BA wrote, the Cuban has a big fastball and good curve with plenty of upside if he can improve his control and add polish.

Belisario, 31, spent some time as Chicago’s closer in his first season with the Pale Hose, but he struggled overall. The former Dodger pitched to a 5.56 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 66 1/3 innings. However, Belisario’s FIP and SIERA feel that he was markedly better than his ERA. Indeed, much of those struggles seem to have come from a fluke 57.7 percent strand rate — significantly lower than his career mark of 70 percent. Belisario was also plagued by a .339 BABIP despite having posted a .288 mark for his career in that department. There were some positives to his game this past season, including an average fastball velocity of 93.9 mph and a strong 59.3 percent ground-ball rate. Nonetheless, Chicago apparently wasn’t comfortable with his projected arbitration salary of $3.9MM.

Mitchell, 26, was the Sox’ No. 1 pick back in 2009 (23rd overall) and ranked among the game’s Top 100 prospects according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus that offseason. However, the LSU product has yet to show the offense one would hope for from a first-round outfielder, as he’s batted just .219/.341/.348 in parts of three seasons at the Triple-A level.