Philadelphia Phillies Looking For Experience With Signing Of Yuniesky Betancourt

By Thom Tsang
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, why not.

Perhaps due to both a lack of depth in the middle infield, or the fact that this Philadephia Phillies squad simply does not have quite enough veterans yet, the team has gone out and signed veteran Yuniesky Betancourt to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.

Betancourt, who has played everywhere on the infield but first base in recent years, is perhaps what you’d call a prototypical replacement-level player. A high-contact hitter with a little bit of pop, Betancourt doesn’t do particularly well at the plate (.682 career OPS), but it’s not what you’d call a disaster for his position either.

His defense, on the other hand, is notably below average. In fact, with a -11.8 UZR/150 that puts him dead last among shortstops among the last five years, you could reasonably say that Betancourt may very well be the very worst defensive shortstop playing today.

All of which makes it even more remarkable that he’s had full-time jobs in just about every year since he’s been in the big leagues, as he’s one of the most experienced shortstops in the league over those same five years.

It’s like that very experience that the Phillies are looking for in this zero-risk minor league deal. The team currently has two relatively inexperienced players in both Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen listed as depth behind incumbent shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Should Rollins go down to an injury in his age-34 season, the team will be faced with having replacements with less than 200 big league innings at shortstop between both of them.

Should Betancourt make the major league roster, he will easily trump both with his experience in the big leagues with his eight years and 5000+ innings at short thus far…even if he’s not much of a replacement in the skill department.

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