The Colorado Rockies have declined their $4.25 team option to bring right-hander Rafael Betancourt back for the 2014 season, according to a team announcement. Because the 38-year old recently underwent Tommy John surgery that may end his career, the move comes as no surprise. Betancourt will receive a $250K buyout due to the team's decision to decline their half of the mutual option.
In 32 appearances with the Rockies on the season, Betancourt posted a 2-5 record and 4.08 ERA while registering 16 saves in 28.2 innings of work in what amounted to the worst statistical season of his eleven-year major league career. As MLB.com's Ian McCue wrote in late August, Betancourt indicated that he was going under the knife in an attempt to make a comeback from his health issues.
"I took the decision last night, alongside doctors," Betancourt said on the radio show Los Cronistas. "They told me there was little chance of recovery with current treatment."
"It would be sad to come to the end of my career this way, after all I've been through," he said. "This motivates me to go on."
"I know if my arm feels healthy, I can still pitch for a few more years," Betancourt said.
In eleven major league seasons with the Indians (2003-2009) and Rockies (2009-2013), Betancourt has posted a career record of 36-33 with a 3.19 ERA in 635 appearances. He will likely most of the 2014 season, but could sign with a team looking for late-inning bullpen help towards the end of the season if his recovery is deemed successful. At the latest, Betancourt could sign a minor league deal with a team next offseason in hopes of returning to the majors in 2015.
The Rockies have been one of the most active teams since the end of the season, also making the decision to exercise Jorge De La Rosa's option for 2014. While the team has no major league free agents this winter, they hold a $4.25 mutual option on reliever Matt Belisle in addition to the options on Betancourt and De La Rosa.