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.
The Padres fired manager Andy Green on Saturday, per an official team release. Bench coach Rod Barajas will step into the position for the remaining eight games of the 2019 season.
Executive Vice President and GM A.J. Preller gave a statement in the wake of Green’s dismissal:
I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons. This was an incredibly difficult decision, but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.
In additional comments made to reporters, Preller added that the decision had not been made based on the Padres’ current win-loss record (a fourth-place 69-85 in the NL West), but rather on the lack of response coming from the team.
“Looking at the performance, looking at it from an improvement standing, we haven’t seen the team respond in the last few months,” Preller said. “When you get to the point where you’re questioning where things are headed … we have to make that call.”
Since his hiring in October 2015, Green has faced considerable challenges on the Padres’ long and winding path to postseason contention. He shepherded San Diego through four consecutive losing seasons, drawing a career 274-366 record as the club extended their streak to 13 seasons without a playoff appearance. And, despite some definite strides in the right direction — including an eight-year, $144 million pact with Eric Hosmer, a 10-year, $300 million pact with superstar Manny Machado, and the development of top prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — lingering injuries and inexplicable slumps from key players stalled the rebuild longer than the Padres would have liked.
For now, they’ll prepare to roll the dice with a new skipper in 2020, though any potential candidates have yet to be identified for the role. It won’t come cheap, either, as Green inked a four-year extension back in 2017 — one that should have seen him through the team’s 2021 campaign.