Betancourt Gets New 2-Year Contract

Rafael Betancourt

Right-hander Rafael Betancourt, one of the Indians' most valuable players in 2007, has signed a two-year contract that includes a club option for 2010. The right-hander played an important role in helping Cleveland win the AL Central last season and was rewarded with a significant raise. He will earn a reported $5.4 million over the next two seasons after being paid $840,000 last season.

"This is like a dream come true for me and my family," Betancourt said. "I'll be here for three more years. I told my agent I really wanted to stay here. I just wanted to get it done. I'm excited."

The Indians avoided going to arbitration with Betancourt. Third baseman Casey Blake is the only Indians player still eligible for arbitration and The Associated Press reported that the team and representatives for the veteran player have exchanged contract figures. Blake is reportedly seeking $6.9 million, while the club offered $5.4 million, up from the $3.75 million the 34-year-old received a year ago.

Cleveland had not gone to arbitration with any player since 1991.

Betancourt's deal includes performance bonuses and a $5 million club option for 2010.

The 32-year-old native of Venezuela went 5-1 with three saves and a 1.47 ERA in 68 appearances in 2007. In 79 1/3 innings, he allowed only 51 hits and nine walks while striking out 80. He turned a lead over to closer Joe Borowski 31 times.

Betancourt pitched scoreless ball in 55 of his appearances, didn't allow more than one earned run in any of his regular-season outings, while six of his seven post-season outings were scoreless.

"I want to do even better," he said. "I just want to stay healthy and that way I can help the team like I did last year."

Betancourt spent three years as a weak-hitting infielder in Boston's minor-league system before being converted to a reliever in 1997. He played one season in Japan's minor leagues, then missed all of 2002 with a shoulder injury.

The Indians gave him a tryout, and within a year he had worked his way through their farm system and into the majors.

"This is a great story," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. "Where Raffy came from, the ups downs of his career, for him to get a multiyear deal is great. And for us to get the stability and consistency at the back end of the bullpen, it's just great story."

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The Indians also invited eight of their key minor-league players to be part of the major-league camp when spring training opens next month in Winter Haven, Fla.

Corner infielder Beau Mills, the club's first-round draft pick last June, will be part of his first spring camp as a professional. Other minor-leaguers invited to work out with the big team are outfielder Trevor Crowe, first baseman-outfielder Jordan Brown, left-hander Chuck Lofgren, right-handers J.D. Martin and Jeffrey Stevens and catchers Chris Gimenez and Dave Wallace.


Cleveland 5 1 3 1.47 68 79.3 51 9 80
MLB Totals 19 16 12 2.80 273 308.3 258 68 313 Recommended Stories

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