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Sam LeCure Rumors
With rosters being finalized around the league, it’s a busy time for players departing and ascending to the 40-man roster. Here’s the latest:
- The Twins announced that they’ve selected the contract of outfielder Shane Robinson, who had been in camp on a Minor League deal. The 30-year-old Robinson had previously spent his entire career in the Cardinals organization and will presumably serve as the right-handed half of a center field platoon with Jordan Schafer. Minnesota entered Spring Training hoping that Aaron Hicks would show progress and win the center field job outright, but he struggled throughout the month and was optioned to Triple-A, paving the way for Robinson to make the roster. In parts of five seasons with St. Louis, Robinson is a .231/.303/.308 hitter in 452 plate appearances. He’s received strong marks at all three outfield spots, per UZR and DRS, and he hit .283/.340/.370 in Grapefruit League action this year.
- The Reds are set to add several veterans to their 40-man roster, as John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Veteran righties Kevin Gregg and Jason Marquis will be joined by reserves Brennan Boesch and Chris Dominguez on the Opening Day roster, and all will need a 40-man spot. That crunch already led the team to outright reliever Sam LeCure, and several other slots will need to be created before things are official.
- The Rockies have selected the contract of right-hander Rafael Betancourt, the team announced last night (on Twitter). Betancourt, who will turn 40 at the end of this month, has gone through a somewhat remarkable comeback, recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent as a 38-year-old to return to the 40-man roster. The former Rox closer has had an excellent spring, yielding just one run on eight hits and a walk with 10 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings. He adds another arm with closing experience to what is looking like a fairly murky bullpen situation in Colorado. It’s worth mentioning that setup man Rex Brothers was optioned to Triple-A and won’t be a factor in the ‘pen in the season’s early stages.
11:00am: LeCure has cleared waivers but may still elect whether to decline the assignment, Fay tweets. Of course, doing so would mean giving up his guaranteed salary, and LeCure himself tweets that he is heading to the organization’s Triple-A affiliate in Louisville.
Cincinnati has leaned heavily on LeCure’s right arm over the past four years. On average, he’s thrown 63 innings of 3.35 ERA ball in that span, averaging 8.8 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9. But those numbers all took a downturn last year, when LeCure struck out 7.6 and walked 3.8 batters per nine. His ERA fell below league average, with estimators backing that assessment.
LeCure was not able to secure a place in the pen despite a solid Cactus League stat line. He K’ed twelve and walked four over 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs. The move is somewhat surprising given LeCure’s track record, but the club has apparently decided to go in another direction.
Though he loses his roster spot, LeCure will not go without his salary. He signed a two-year deal last year guaranteeing him $3.05MM, the majority of it coming in 2015. (In fact, LeCure’s guaranteed 2015 base salary of $1.85MM has increased to$1.9MM due to escalators.) Depending upon how much big league service time he ends up accruing this year — he enters the year with 4.072 years of service — LeCure will be eligible for one more season of arbitration before hitting the open market.
JAN. 24: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (via Twitter) that LeCure will earn $1.2MM in 2014 and $1.85MM in 2015. However, LeCure will have the opportunity to boost his 2015 base salary to $2MM, as he'll earn a $50K boost to his 2015 salary for appearing in 60, 65 and 70 games in 2014.
JAN. 17, 10:12am: LeCure's deal guarantees him $3.05MM, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
The 29-year-old LeCure has seen consistent year-to-year improvement in his Major League career to this point. His ERA has dropped from 4.50 in 2010 to 3.71 in 2011 to 3.14 in 2012 and finally 2.66 in 2013. All told, LeCure has a career 3.08 ERA with a 196-to-68 K/BB ratio in 190 innings since being converted to a reliever in 2011. He owns a career 45.5 percent ground-ball rate in addition to his strong strikeout rate.
MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected LeCure to earn $1MM in arbitration this offseason, but Reds GM Walt Jocketty avoided that process for the next two seasons with this two year deal. The Reds still have several high-profile cases remaining, including Homer Bailey, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon.