DENVER (AP) – Rafael Betancourt has a new deal to go with his new role as Colorado’s closer.
The Rockies’ right-handed reliever agreed Wednesday to an $8.5 million, two-year contract that guarantees him an additional $4.25 million.
The Venezuela native saved eight of nine games filling in for an injured Huston Street last August. The Rockies traded Street to San Diego in December.
Betancourt has never had a closer’s job to start a season. He has 27 career saves and 141 holds for Cleveland (2003-09) and Colorado (2009-2011).
Betancourt said last week before the team’s fan festival that he won’t approach things any differently as a closer than when he was the Rockies’ eighth-inning setup man.
“I treat it the same whether it’s the seventh, eighth or ninth,” Betancourt said, adding: “It’s fun because now I just have to get three outs for the team to have a chance to win the game.”
Last season, Betancourt went 2-0 with eight saves, 22 holds, a 2.89 ERA, 73 strikeouts and eight walks in 68 appearances for the Rockies. He held opponents to a .203 batting average, including .077 over the season’s final two months, when he was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.
Among major league relievers with at least 25 appearances after the All-Star break, Betancourt led the NL in ERA, opponents’ batting average, strikeout to walk ratio, hits allowed per nine innings (2.33) and base runners allowed per nine innings (2.67).
The 36-year-old was due $4 million this year under a contract agreed to last January, a deal that included a $4.25 million mutual option for 2013 with a $250,000 buyout. Under Wednesday’s new deal, this year’s salary is the same, 2013 becomes guaranteed at $4.25 million and a mutual option for 2014 is added with a $250,000 buyout.
His performance bonus for this year was changed to $200,000 for 55 games finished. In 2013 and 2014, if exercised, he can earn $50,000 each for 40 and 45 games finished, $150,000 for 50, $200,000 for 55 and $250,000 for 60.
– By Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
AP Sports Writer Ron Blum contributed to this report from New York.
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