Rafael Betancourt will be a full-time closer for the first time this season at age 36 and today the veteran right-hander agreed to a contract extension with the Rockies.
Betancourt’s old contract pays $4 million this season and included a $4.25 million mutual option or $250,000 buyout for 2013, but Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the new deal converts that option into a $4.25 million guarantee and adds a $4.25 million option for 2014.
Or, put another way: Colorado exercised his 2013 option in advance and tacked on a new option for 2014, which is quite a commitment to make to a 36-year-old who hasn’t even thrived in the closer role full time yet. With that said, Betancourt has consistently been among the best setup men in baseball for the past decade and certainly showed no signs of slowing down last season, throwing 62 innings with a 2.89 ERA and 73/8 K/BB ratio while moving past Huston Street in the bullpen hierarchy.
CC Sabathia‘s contract with the Yankees expires after the 2017 season but the lefty feels that he has enough left in the tank to pitch in 2018 and beyond, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.
Sabathia said, “I just know myself. I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
The 36-year-old lefty currently holds a 4.02 ERA and a 144/63 K/BB ratio in 172 1/3 innings. It’s his best and healthiest season since 2012. He battled a knee injury last season and checked into rehab for alcohol addiction last October. Sabathia said that being treated for his addiction put him “in a good spot.”
Sabathia is owed $25 million through a vesting option for the 2017 season.
The Red Sox can thank the Orioles for not having to fight to clinch the division on Thursday or later. The Orioles came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays 3-2 on Wednesday evening, clinching the AL East for the Red Sox.
A few minutes after that game went final, the Red Sox squandered a 3-0 lead taken in the eighth inning, culminating in a walk-off grand slam by Mark Teixeira in the bottom of the ninth inning. Closer Craig Kimbrel started the ninth, but didn’t have control over any of his pitches. He allowed a leadoff single followed by three consecutive walks to force in a run. Joe Kelly relieved Kimbrel and seemed to be close to wriggling out of the jam, getting Starlin Castro to strike out looking and Didi Gregorius to pop up. But after starting Teixeira with a first-pitch curve ball for a strike, Teixera clobbered a 99 MPH fastball, sending it over the fence in right-center to end the game.
For the Yankees, the come-from-behind victory was crucial as it staved off Wild Card elimination for one more day.
This is the first time the Red Sox have clinched the AL East since 2013, also the last year they won the World Series.