According to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune, Christian Bethancourt was recently clocked at 97 mph while facing live hitters in Arizona.
Bethancourt has also been developing a changeup as he prepares to work as a pitcher in the Panama Winter League. The 25-year-old made two relief appearances for the Padres in 2016 and looked pretty good, allowing just one hit over 1 2/3 shutout innings. He hasn't hit well enough to establish himself as a reliable major league catcher, so the Friars will stretch this experiment and try to catch lightning in a bottle with Bethancourt's big arm.
Wilson Ramos' agent Wil Polidor told the Washington Post that his client still plans to seek a four- or five-year contract this winter in free agency.
Ramos suffered ACL and meniscus tears in his right knee on September 26 and his rehab from surgery will extend into the 2017 season, but the 29-year-old catcher is going to try to cash in anyway on a weak free agent market. Ramos acknowledged to reporters earlier this month that his best offers are likely to come from American League teams because he might have to DH some moving forward. This was the second major right knee injury of his career.
James Shields will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract, per SB Nation's Chris Cotillo.
An easy decision for Shields, who is owed $21 million each of the next two seasons with a $16 million club option (or $2 million buyout) for 2019. The veteran right-hander posted brutal 6-19 record, 5.85 ERA, and 1.60 WHIP across 33 starts in 2016 while earning $21 million -- $16 million of it paid by the Padres. San Diego is still on the hook for another $22 million of the $44 million Shields is still owed. Shields will turn 35 years old in December.
Henry Urrutia was released earlier this week from Leones del Caracas in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Urrutia batted .264 with three doubles and seven RBI in 15 games with Caracas -- not terrible results. Often there are other things at play behind the decisions made by these winter league clubs. Urrutia, a native of Cuba, is traveling back to the United States to begin a period of offseason rest and rehab. He figures to open the 2017 campaign at Double-A Bowie or Triple-A Norfolk.
Tigers signed RHP Arcenio Leon to a minor league contract.
Leon registered a 3.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 53/21 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings of relief this summer with Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League. He'll be on the minor league side of Tigers camp next spring, with no shot of cracking the major league roster. The well-traveled 30-year-old right-hander has never appeared in a major league game.