When reports first surfaced – back around the time of the Winter Meetings – that the Cubs were considering Yuniesky Betancourt for their third base opening, I was a little nervous. At the time, I said I had a hard time believing the Cubs were considering him on anything more than a minor league deal, but the mere possibility that he was going to end up being “the guy” at third base was enough to make me uncomfortable.
Given that he has been hilarious offensively and terrible defensively over the past, well, entire career, it’s not surprising to learn that he’s got a negative WAR since 2009. Maybe a shift from shortstop to third base would help the defense, but that wouldn’t help the fact that he was so undesirable in the clubhouse that the Royals dumped him for nothing last August (his manager essentially called him out for being selfish). This has minor league deal/Spring Training invite written all over it. He’s not even a good platoon candidate.
Once the Cubs re-signed Ian Stewart, however, thoughts of Betancourt – even on a minor league deal – completely fell out of my head. Even if the Cubs did sign Betancourt, it would be to a mere no-risk minor league deal … so what? If it happens, fine, but it’s not worth freaking out about.
And then his agent started saying things like, “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,” and I start to squirm once again.
But I can unclench. Maybe. A source tells Justin Bopp of MLB Daily Dish on SB Nation that the Cubs are no longer involved on Betancourt, and the Stewart re-signing was indeed the catalyst for their interest flagging. That is to say, the Cubs do not have interest in bringing Betancourt on board to compete at third base.
At this point, Betancourt is probably just looking for a utility job, and, since he doesn’t really rake against lefties (.722 OPS – better than against righties, but still not great) and can “play shortstop” in the sense that he’s played it terribly before, I’m not sure he’s the right guy for the Cubs. I suspect this might be the last we hear about Mr. Betancourt.
At least until he’s hitting a grand slam for the Cardinals against the Cubs or some such ridiculousness.