Betancourt traded to Rockies for Class A pitcher

Setup man Rafael Betancourt returned to the Indians’ bullpen just in time to become trade bait. And on Thursday, the Rockies bit.

The Indians have traded Betancourt, a fixture in their ‘pen since 2003, to the Rockies in exchange for Class A right-hander Connor Graham. It was the second swap of the summer for an Indians team that dealt Mark DeRosa to the Cardinals last month, and it could be a sign that the remaining week before the non-waiver Trade Deadline will be an active one.

The Indians held a $5.4 million option on the 34-year-old Betancourt for 2010 that they were not expected to exercise.

Graham, 23, is an Ohio product with a big body and intriguing numbers at the high-A level.

A native of Bowling Green and a Miami of Ohio alum, Graham is listed at 6-foot-7, 235 pounds and has spent all of ’09 with the Modesto Nuts of the California League. He is 7-4 with a 3.14 ERA, 87 strikeouts and 41 walks in 80 1/3 innings in 16 starts. His ERA is the sixth-best in the league, and he’s limited the opposition to a .225 average against, with just two homers allowed. He is 3-0 with a 0.59 ERA over his last three starts.

The Rockies had plucked Graham out of Miami with their fifth-round pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. In his first full professional season last year, he went 12-6 with a 2.26 ERA in 26 starts for Asheville in low-A ball. Following the ’08 season, Baseball America named him the 12th-best prospect in the Rockies’ organization.

Graham throws a fastball and slider and had been working on a changeup.

UPDATE: Graham is headed to Double-A Akron. Here’s Mark Shapiro: “Strike zone command is his area of development, clearly. But he's a guy who has power stuff. Pitching prospect depth is our greatest area of need."

Shapiro also said a lot of words that amount to nothing regarding the Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez rumors. He kept with the club's policy of not directly commenting on individual players.

Betancourt handled the news well, but he was obviously sad to be leaving. "All these years, to be able to pitch here, was very good," he said. "You see a lot of relievers go around a lot. To be here seven years makes me proud."

Finally, thanks to the reader who pointed out the inaccuracy on Graham's age. He's 23, not 24, as I had previously written.

More info on Indians.com in a bit.

UPDATE No. 2: In case you missed it, the Blue Jays designated David Dellucci for assignment today.

UPDATE No. 3: Got some use out of that new Twitter account today with the Betancourt news. If you’d like to follow along for future updates, you can find it here.

43 Comments

That’s pretty funny. I was just reading the Trade Blog and saw the article about the Rockies looking for a right handed reliever, and I immediately thought of Betancourt.
Not much to make of it on the Tribe’s side, really, as Graham is a few years off from helping the major league club, but he seems to be a good return for a guy we all knew we’d deal.

The only reason I don’t like the deal, is because it makes me worry that perhaps the Front Office is ready to give up on 2010. If that is the case, I expect to see some big trades in the coming week or so, but maybe this is just the best they could do in this particular situation.

AC, it would appear from other sites that Graham is actually only 23. Minor, but I know how people like to get YOUNG talent, and it seems like 24 is too old these days.

christopherw – i don’t think it signals that the Indians are giving up on 2010, because there’s no way they would have picked up Betancourt’s option at over $5 million. He’s been good, but not THAT good. I would, however, have liked to see them get a prospect at a little higher level than A ball, even though it would seem that Graham is going places. A lot can happen before he gets to the Tribe . . .

Don’t get greedy. Betancourt is old, expensive, a soon to be free agent (his option is not at all attractive) and not the pitcher he was a couple of years ago. Also, I’m assuming he won’t have to be rostered so that opens up a spot.

You guys are probably right, perhaps I was overestimating his trade value, but I do still feel like 2010 might be given up on in order to try to build something for 2011-2012. If so, I hope it works out, but it would be awfully disappointing and unacceptable if the last rebuilding project only got us one playoff appearance before we started trading a lot of those core players away.

Betancourt has nothing to do with 2010. He wasn’t going to be here anyway.

You should be proud of the blog name. Ramon Castro caught the perfect game.
-Ellie
http://mrmetbro.blogspot.com

You should be proud of the blog name. Ramon Castro caught the perfect game.
-Ellie
http://mrmetbro.blogspot.com

Well, we all knew he would be dealt. I was a little suprised to see only one class A prospect, though. But, his stats thus far look pretty good.

Given how bad Betancourt was last year and that he just came off the DL, I’d say this is a pretty good deal.
From the Rockies side of things, you have to figure that Betancourt will do better in the NL, particularly against people who have never seen him before.

I would imagine the FO new this was going to happen back when they dealt DeRosa, as C. Perez would appear to be the heir to Betancourt’s role.

I think the FO knew they wouldn’t have Betancourt after this year, because his option price was too high, so that was probably what spurred them to get Perez, like you said LACF. I doubt they knew for sure they’d trade him . . . but that’s somewhat immaterial considering they knew they wouldn’t have him beyond this year regardless.

There is only one way Betancourt would have a strong chance of being here next year: a successful 2009 season. If we were contenders this year (for more than just the division), I could see us picking up the hefty club option for an effective, healthy Betancourt.
The moment things didn’t pan out this season, was when Betancourt’s time was finished. If we didn’t hold the title of “Worst Team in the AL” and Betancourt hadn’t been injured, I think he would have been here until the end of the season. However, this is how things had to be.
The only thing that I didn’t like was, as AC wrote, the separating of two best friends in Victor and Betancourt. That must be tough. I really like Victor, and would love to see the team built around him. This team needs a strong, stable leader and veteran influence to the large number of young players we have. There is more to a team than just throwing 9 guys together with good stats. I think that’s a big think Victor brings to this team.

Rondon, 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 K’s, 9 H, 0 BB. He’s now 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Sure, it’s too early to really get that excited about his AAA stats, but…when was the last time we had a guy at the level to get excited by?
Probably of more note, he has one more start before the trade deadline. I say that because I feel like his development will play a big part in what we decide to do — same with Carmona.
I really hope we don’t deal Lee. I’m willing to hold out hope that a Lee, Westbrook, Carmona, Laffey, Rondon (Lewis, Huff) rotation could actually be a winner, and that those who don’t end up in the rotation can help the bullpen.

not to be a pessimist about a trade we all knew was going to happen since my guess was the Dodgers but seeing as Graham has “intriguing numbers at the high-A level” I wanted to point out some intriguing if not eye-popping numbers we came across about a year ago this time:

“… 335 strikeouts in 263 2/3 career innings in the minor leagues”

those numbers were spread across THREE levels of the minor leagues and belonged to Jon Meloan.

And prior to the Betancourt trade AC (logically) suggested it might be Veras or Abreu that got axed for Sowers, thereby potentially giving up on Meloan for a 32-year old nomadic relief pitcher we end up releasing anyhow. I’m just sayin’.

I don’t think anyone (well, me, at least) has any kind of expectations for Graham. But given Betancourt’s recent history, getting a young player with any potential upside is nice. And, as someone else mentioned, it frees up some cash flow.
He’s got one more start before the deadline, but no matter how it turns out I could really see Pavano going to the Dodgers. You can always count on an AL pitcher’s ERA dropping by at least a run when they move to the NL. He’s also averaging six innings per start and, again, that’s in the AL. I think he’s a good fit, and I’ve heard the Dodgers have a good farm system.
Besides, it would give me another reason to watch Dodgers’ games.

LACF, I concur with the Dodgers being a real suitor for Pavano as we’ve mentioned this for a few days now. What’s really funny to me is reading a Milwaukee website (http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/sports/51399422.html) and seeing what they consider to be market value for Cliff Lee. Freakin’ hilarious.

I must say that I am surprised, if the rumors are true that is, that Boston would have rejected a Martinez/Buchholz swap. Perhaps they realize that Beckett, Dick-K, Smoltz, Wakefield, and Penny do not have many youthful years left. They may need to lean on Lester and Buchholz for the future. While Matsuzaka is only 28 he has the wear and tear of a 34-year old. Beckett has grown increasingly injury prone albeit still quite effective when healthy. The latter 3 are dispensable and old. That’s my only rational for rejecting this “rumor.”

Wait……what? Pavano to the Dodgers? I don’t think I can agree with that. While I’m not going to rule it out, I find it to be highly unlikely. Sure, I think an NL team would likely be his eventual home, but I don’t think it would be smart for the Dodgers to put Torre and Pavano together again. That is just poor team chemistry waiting to happen. Also, while I like Pavano, he isn’t a HUGE upgrade for the Dodgers, who are as of now, the best team in baseball. If the Dodgers want a pitcher, I’m sure there are other options.
What I think is more likely, is Pavano going to the Brewers. Milwaukee is in need of starting pitching, and could really use it in another push for the playoffs. Also, Pavano would be a reasonably cheap option, which a club like Milwaukee would be more apt to pursue, rather than LA.

LACF, I was at the Clippers game last night, and you failed to mention that Marte went 4-4 with 2 HRs and 4 RBI. Laporta hit a home run also. And Raffy Perez picked up a 2 inning save with 3 K’s. It was a good game to see, and I have now been lucky enough to see two of Rondon’s three AAA starts. I would be surprised if they call him up anytime before September though, but I won’t be upset if they do. If Laporta is not up by August 1st, something is seriously wrong with the Management of this team.

jk, Ned Coletti took a beating nationally (and especially in the L.A. area) for dealing Carlos Santana last year. Despite how popular Casey Blake has been for that organization and its fans, that trade was mind-boggling and all about money for the Colettis.

Having said that I have to question where Ned Coletti would pull the trigger and deal some of his best prospects again, this time for Halladay. Personally, I can’t see him moving guys like Ivan DeJesus Jr., Devaris Gordon, Josh Bell or Pedro Baez whom are highly regarded by BA. And while Pavano may not be a huge upgrade for the Dodgers at face value it allows them to closely monitor the fatigue of Clayton Kershaw and the return from injuries for Jason Schmidt, Eric Milton and Jeff Weaver. I would take Pavano over any of those latter three guys.

christopherw, I have been pining to see Marte again simply out of curiosity and my displeasures with Peralta (only 25 extra base hits all season). AC seems to think that Garko will be the next player jettisoned which would make room for LaPorta at 1B/LF. Sorry Benny, you’re just not cuttin’ it.

And for all the talk about the Indians’ lack of pitching depth I think it should be mentioned that we do have quality, high-ceiling pitchers within the organization. Unfortunately most of them are at the lower levels. T.J. House, Hector Rondon, Alex Perez, Kelvin de la Cruz, Trey Haley, Zach Putnam, Bryce Stowell, Eric Berger, and Alex White when he signs. Some of these names have been mentioned by commenters and AC alike, some have not. This realization makes dealing Cliff Lee all the more improbable.

I’d like to know how Graham has racked up 6 errors in 16 games.

I dont know if this was a good idea to trade him..
but we will see. It all depends on how Conor pitches.
http://tribechick.mlblogs.com/ -TC

I guess I missed this information, so can anyone tell me who the Indians brought up on the 25-man to take over for Raffey? And did they add someone to the 40-man as well? Thanks.

I don’t think the move has been made yet, but Sowers is coming up for the start tomorrow. I don’t know about the 40 man.

That makes sense. Thanks. They might be leaving a spot open on the 40-man until they are done dealing, perhaps.

Those were my thoughts.

Any BG native that goes to Miami is no friend of mine. This guy is not to be trusted.

Okay, so time to ask: where does everyone stand now on dealing Lee and/or Martinez?
I understand that the issue with Lee is that we don’t seem to have a #1 waiting in the wings, and perhaps we could get one if we deal Lee this season as opposed to waiting until next year. But I wonder if that’s entirely accurate. Sure, we might not have a potential #1 currently in AAA, but surely we’ve got potential in AA (and, of course, Rondon, who is three games deep at AAA).
And while Jeremy Sowers is going to need more than one or two solid starts to prove he belongs, but Laffey has steadily gotten better since coming off the DL.
It’s a fine line with a lot of if’s, I know, but the makings of a good rotation DO exist within this organization, and we’ve yet to see what Lewis (Scott) can really do, not to mention how Westbrook is going to return.
As for Martinez, I basically only hear one rumor involving him: Boston for Buckholtz. But, again, I feel like dealing Victor this year also writes of next year, as we have no dependable catcher to replace him (yet).
Yes, I know we need bullpen help. Today was a good example of that. Perez is coming along and I still have hope in Sipp, but we’ve got very little beyond that (Lewis has thrown 15.2 scoreless in AAA, at least).
Still — call me overly optimistic, but I feel like dealing Lee or Martinez now would be a bad move.

… After long and careful deliberation, I am for trading Cliff and/or Vic. At this point, I just cannot see this team competing next year. Will we be exponentially better? I think so. Will we be good enough to be relevant come October? Unfortunately, I think not.
… I was talking to a Rangers fan on another forum and he brought up the idea of trading Vic AND Cliff to the Rangers. I would be ALL for this. Neftali Feliz, Justin Smoak, Kennil Perez and a few low-level prospects would be very sufficient, if it were up to me.
… In 2011 or so, that would leave us with a rotation of Faus, Rondon, Feliz, Perez and Huff/Laffey/etc. Offensively, Dru, Grady, Smoak, LaPorta, Santana, Choo, Mills, Brantley, Valbuena, Chisenhall, etc. I feel this to be a very formidable team in the coming years.
… I don’t think any of us REALLY want to see either of them go, but it may be for the best. Keeping them means putting a majority of our eggs in the 2010 basket, and I’m just not convinced that that drastic a turnaround from this season is coming.

Anyone see Chris Giminez with the #2 Web Gem on Sportscenter last night? HR robbing catch in right.

Just my opinion: If you look at our division, the leaders are 2 and 8 games over .500. If this year somehow we were around .500 at this point, that would mean we probably would have beaten DET and CHI a couple more times, thus knocking them down, say, two games or so. My point being: WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN IT THIS YEAR. But we all know that already. So I say, keep Cliff and Victor, assess coaching positions, revamp bullpen, cross fingers, and win next year. This is not the AL East. A healthy Pronk will have a monster year. This offseason will define Shapiro’s tenure. If he can suppement the rotation, we can win. If we fail, I would try to sign Vic for a reasonable extention. Cliff would be harder to sign, trade him for prospects next year. We’ll still get a good one as long as Lee is healthy.

2010:
CF Sizemore
SS Cabrera
C Martinez
DH Hafner
RF Choo
1B LaPorta
3B Peralta?
2B Valbuena
LF Brantley?

SP Lee, Carmona, Westbrook, TBD, Laffey

Tell me the Tigers and W Sox are really that much better?

I have not come to a conclusion yet, which I think means I will be okay if we don’t trade either of them, and I will be okay if we trade one or both of them. The main reason I do not want to trade them, as furrski pointed out, is that I believe the AL Central will be a winable division next year, just like it is this year, and if we have Laporta up, Westbrook and (an effective) Carmona back and maybe a few other offseason moves to improve the bullpen, there is no reason we can’t make the playoffs in this division, and once we’re in, who knows what can happen.

At the same time, because Lee is going to want more money then we can give, he will almost certainly be gone after next year. Because Victor has the most value at catcher, and by 2011 his replacement should be ready, as should Laporta at first, as much as I love him, I understand he might be squeezed out (Unless we go with a four-man rotation for C, 1B and DH of Santana, Victor, Laporta and Hafner). So basically, if we can get some pieces that will make this team a true contender by 2011, I will be fine with the trades, and be willing to have a very short rebuilding process. I love Lee and Victor both, but I understand the business side of baseball, and I trust the front office (whether I should or not) to do what is best right now to put us in a position to make the playoffs as soon as possible.

At this point, my position is trade both Lee and Victor or trade neither and make a run at the central in ’10. By trading them both now we maximize their value and our return. By trading neither we are committing to a (fan-appreciated) attempt to win next year. If we trade just one of them (especially Lee) what the heck are we trying to say? I’m just saying, keeping one and trading the other (this season) doesn’t make much sense to me. Make a decision on the future and stick with it.

I think we have a better shot at resigning Victor than Lee, so maybe we have a scenario where Victor plays 1B, Santana plays C, and LaPorta in LF for 2011+? Doesn’t sound all that bad to me, especially if we add some pertinent pieces dealing Lee in 2010 if it doesn’t go well.

Everybody take a deep breath here with me… if 2010 turns out well (playoff berth), what’s so wrong with letting Lee walk and taking that first round draft pick? We’ll have a much better picture of our (current) young pitchers by then. Also, if we make the playoffs there should be no reason we’re unable to sign Victor.

Just my grumblings…

“According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers and Indians are in serious discussions about a trade that would send both Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez to Los Angeles in exchange for James Loney, a young starting pitcher, and prospects.

The deal still faces significant obstacles due to the caliber of players involved, but the Dodgers clearly want to strengthen themselves for a strong postseason showing.

Rosenthal names Class AA third baseman Josh Bell, Class AA outfielder Andrew Lambo, Class AAA starter Scott Elbert and Class AAA right-hander Josh Lindblom as prospects who are being discussed. All of the prospects are in the Dodgers’ Top 10, according to Baseball America, with Lambo coming into the season as the Dodgers’ top prospect.
It’s unknown if the Dodgers would part with Chad Billingsley or Clayton Kershaw in a deal to acquire the Indians’ superstars.”
…..If Billingsley or Kershaw aren’t involved in that deal, I quit. If you’re going to trade both of them to the same team, why not make it the team with the best farm system in baseball (Texas)? James Loney is a slightly more athletic Ryan Garko.

From the article on the front page:

“Major League sources told MLB.com on Sunday that there is no truth to FoxSports.com’s report that the Dodgers are in serious talks with the Indians about a trade that would send left-hander Cliff Lee and catcher Victor Martinez to Los Angeles for first baseman James Loney, a young starting pitcher such as Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley and prospects.”

I think Ken Rosenthal is getting creative.

The PTBNL was Jess Todd. That’s great news. He was the one I was hoping would be selected.

Agreed, jkrumwiede. In fact, it makes helps pave over the original DeRosa trade, too.
Stevens is the only one of the three pitchers we dealt who has made it to the big leagues so far, and has only thrown 4 innings. While Chris Perez has had a few rough outings, his last 5 innings of work have resulted in 0 ER, so the potential appears to be there.
Chris Archer has an ERA of 2.48, but he’s still in single A.
John Gaub is looking really good in his few appearances for the Cubs’ AAA team, but Jess Todd has thrown nearly 5 times as many innings and has an ERA of 2.20. Basically, the two relievers we’ve gotten for DeRosa are going to have an impact on the major league club sooner than the guys we dealt, which bodes well for us if we actually DO content next year.
And, hey, we got a half season of DeRosa out of it, too, who at least made the games entertaining.

it’s time for me to piggyback on AC’s prediction about Ryan Garko being the next Indians player traded and his recent hot streak only enhances that opinion. Until the deadline is over I still maintain that Peralta goes as well. My guess is Garko to San Francisco. Perhaps I am simply following the prevailing winds (hence rumors) about Garko being jettisoned but when there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

Yeah, Garko is playing like a man who wants to increase his trade value! I’m surprised there hasn’t been more talk about Pavano, particularly regarding NL teams. Maybe his start tonight will be the deciding factor.
It’s completely irrational, but I feel like if they deal Martinez, they should deal Lee, too. But I don’t feel that way in reverse. I suppose it’s just the fact that Victor is a leader on the team and that we have no one to replace him yet — and that we seem to have SOME chance of signing an extension with him. On the flip side, I don’t think there’s any chance Lee sticks around. The only real decision that needs to be made regarding Lee is whether or not we can compete next year. If we think we can, we keep him. If not, we deal him. I think it’s more complicated for Victor.

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