Betancourt Option Declined

November 13, 2009 | 1:17 pm | 7  

The Rockies want to retain Rafael Betancourt.

They, however, want to pay him less than the $5.4 million called for in his option for 2010.

As a result, the Rockies announced on Friday they declined the option. They, however, also announced they will continue to talk with Betancourt in an effort to bring him back in 2010.

Betancourt and right-hander Juan Rincon both filed for free agency on Friday. Others who filed Friday were right-handed pitchers Brett Tomko of Oakland, Claudio Vargas and Braden Looper of Milwaukee, Chad Fox of the Cubs and Paul Byrd of Boston, and third baseman Chris Woodward of Boston.

The Rockies are talking to Betancourt about a two-year deal.

They, however, could wind up getting him back for one year. They are expected to offer Betancourt arbitration. The result of that would be the Rockies either keep Betancourt and have to pay him a salary determined by an arbitrator, or if another team signs Betancourt, who is a Type A free agent, the Rockies would get two top draft choices as compensation.

Betancourt, 34, went 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA (56.0 ip, 17 er) in 61 games while splitting his time with Colorado and Cleveland in 2009. He had 61 strikeouts and 20 walks while allowing a .209 (42-for-201) batting average.

The Rockies acquired Betancourt from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Minor League right-handed pitcher Connor Graham on July 23, 2009. Betancourt made 32 appearances in a Rockies uniform, going 3-1 with a 1.78 ER. He pitched in Games Two, Three and Four of the National League Division Series vs. the Philadelphia Phillies and allowed one run in 2.1 innings.

INTERESTING TO read that Yorvit Torrealba rejected a two-year offer from the Rockies because the team had not yet declined his 2010 option, which the Rockies eventually did. If Torrealba and his agent did not know that the Rockies were going to decline the option they had not done a very good job of keeping up with his situation. There was never the slightest doubt that the Rockies would decline Torrealba’s option at $4 million for 2010.


  • Karl | November 13, 2009 | 1:54 pm

    So how does the next two plus weeks work then on his status as arb eligibl? Is he a free agent or is it just the Rockies have to decide to offer arbitration by the 1st of December? I may have just read that wrong on mlbtraderumors and inferred incorrectly there about the type A status and how that affects the next two weeks.

    I understand he was good, but relievers being as volitale as they are, I wonder if a two year deal is worth it? I have gone back and forth on that justification, but almost think mid season trades are better than early stability to signing before a start of the season to a higher quality and priced free agent.

  • Tracy Ringolsby | November 13, 2009 | 3:51 pm

    Karl, he is a free agent. The Rockies, however, have until December to decide whether to offer arbitration. If a team signs him prior to the Rockies deadline for abitration they recieve compensation.

  • David Martin | November 13, 2009 | 4:02 pm

    As good as Betancourt was, relievers are too up and down to commit a ton of money to. With him being a Type A I really think it was a good move to decline the option. Offer him arbitration and either get him for another year or get two picks. If the Rockies keep drafting the way they did this past summer two picks for Betancourt is a no brainer.

    Here is my question…if Betancourt accepts arbitration, what are the odds that he will be awarded more than the $5.6 million option?

  • Bill | November 13, 2009 | 6:45 pm

    I think they are making a mistake. If it wasn’t for Betancourt Rockies would not have made the run they made. Sometimes the Monforts have to bite the bullet. Betancourt has already proved that he can pitch here and be successful. Unlike Hampton and Neagle. Just because you get bit once doesn’t me you can’t be successful at another time.

    If we knew that Buccholz was coming back at full strength and be as successful as he was for most of 08, that would be a different story. But he is a big question mark.

  • Brian H | November 13, 2009 | 8:17 pm

    Bill -

    The Rockies are still, in all likelihood, the team that will land him. The option was heavy, and the Rockies don’t want to pay him that much for one year. They do want to offer him more money in a multi-year contract.

    Betancourt being type A helps this case in him remaining with the team.

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | November 13, 2009 | 11:56 pm

    IMO the odds are very low he’d get $5.4M in arb (the amount of the 2010 option).

    Not many non-closer relievers with similar experience go to arb so it’s a little hard to find comps. However, few non-closers make more than $4M*, so I’m going guess $3.5 to 4M if he goes. (It also of course depends at what he and the Rockies file at.) He made $3.35M in 2009 and it’s reasonable to assume he could ask for and win at least a small raise.

    If they offer him arb, I suspect he’ll accept it, as I think his FA value would plummet if a team stood to lose picks to sign him. It’s more than a team like the Rockies would want to pay for a non-closer, but it’s not bad for a year. That would allow a year to see whether Buchholz and Weathers can return from injuries, what Morales will do, and how the Tulsa gang shakes out (which of those guys will indeed become starters and who will move to the pen).

    (*the list of those I’ve found who’ve never been closers before signing for more than $4M [but typically not higher than $5M] is pretty unimpressive: JC Romero, Ryan Madson, David Riske, Scott Linebrink, Justin Speier, Scott Shields, Rafael Soriano. )

  • Reader f/k/a Mike | November 14, 2009 | 12:04 am

    “Sometimes the Monforts have to bite the bullet. Betancourt has already proved that he can pitch here and be successful. Unlike Hampton and Neagle.”

    Huge difference. The humidor has radically changed the pitching experience at Coors and gives pitchers a fighting chance now. The team agreed to raise payroll to acquire Betancourt and Beimel at a time when a lot of teams were looking to cut costs due to the economy.

    The team and the Monforts might have resources to spend more than they are, but it’s hard to argue with the results. 2007-2009 have been the most successful years of the franchise. Maybe the fiscal discipline is also forcing the team to make better decisions.

    $5.4M is a lot to spend on a setup man who has averaged 66 innings in his 6 full years in MLB, esp. when you’re planning to re-sign your closer at $7-8M/yr.