Last month Yuniesky Betancourt’s agent, Alex Esteban of Miami Sports Management, said the following to MLB Trade Rumors:
I can assure you that Yuni will be signing a major league contract. Currently, there are four teams we are in conversations with and we expect to be finalizing a deal shortly after the holidays.
Couple things. One, there was no “finalizing a deal shortly after the holidays” because Betancourt signed today: January 28. Two, after saying “I can assure you that Yuni will be signing a major league contract” Esteban ended up getting Betancourt a minor-league contract with a team that has four clear-cut starting infielders (Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Michael Young, Ryan Howard) and a younger utility man candidate (Freddy Galvis).
It’s not Esteban’s fault that no teams really wanted Betancourt–good job, teams!–but man … agents sure do like to reinforce the stereotypes an awful lot.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.