As expected the Rockies have declined their $4.25 million option on Rafael Betancourt for next season after the one-time closer underwent Tommy John elbow surgery that will knock him out for most of 2014.
Betancourt initially wanted to go with rest and rehab to avoid surgery, but the 39-year-old later decided to go under the knife in an indication that he’ll try to continue pitching in late 2014 or 2015.
Betancourt carved out quite a career for himself considering he didn’t even debut until age 28, throwing 646 innings with a 3.19 ERA and spectacular strikeout-to-walk ratios for the Indians and Rockies to emerge as one of the elite right-handed setup men (and later closers) in baseball.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.