Rockies avoid arbitration with 4 players

Blackmon, Bettis, LeMahieu, Rusin agree to 1-year deals

January 12th, 2018

DENVER -- The Rockies signed each of their four arbitration-eligible players to one-year contracts for 2018 -- center fielder Charlie Blackmon, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, starting pitcher and reliever Chris Rusin -- ahead of Friday's deadline to exchange proposed salary figures.

According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, Blackmon's deal is worth $14 million and LeMahieu's is for $8.5 million. Rusin's is for $1.2875 million, per USA Today, and Bettis signed for $2 million, per the Denver Post.

This is the final year of arbitration eligibility for Blackmon and LeMahieu, each of the last two National League batting champions, as both will become free agents after next season along with Bettis.

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Blackmon's salary increase is almost double the $7.3 million he earned in '17 following a historic year in which he hit .331 with 37 homers and 104 RBIs, setting the record for RBIs from the leadoff position, with 213 hits and 137 runs, both MLB highs. The bearded wonder, who turns 32 in July, finished fifth in the NL MVP race, won his second straight Silver Slugger Award and started for the NL at leadoff and in center field in his second All-Star Game.

LeMahieu, who will turn 30 in July, is receiving a salary increase from $4.8 million in '17 and $3 million in '16. An All-Star for the second time, LeMahieu won his second Gold Glove Award and slashed .310/.374/.409 with eight homers, 64 RBIs and 95 runs scored, fourth-most among second basemen. He led all National League second basemen with a 1.2 defensive WAR and led all MLB second basemen with eight defensive runs saved, appearing in a career-high 155 games.

Bettis, 28, will earn a raise from $545,000 last year. The club's second-round pick in the 2010 Draft, Bettis overcame a bout with testicular cancer last offseason and again during Spring Training, and he returned for the final two months while sparking national inspiration. Over nine starts, he went 2-4 with a 5.05 ERA, 30 strikeouts and 11 walks, including a critical performance against the Dodgers on the final weekend that helped the Rockies stave off the Brewers for the second NL Wild Card. Bettis, who had been speculated to possibly pitch in relief upon his return, will enter spring slated in the back of the rotation, likely complementing right-handers and , and lefties and .

The versatile Rusin is earning more than double from last year after proving to be arguably the Rockies' most consistent reliever. The 31-year-old former starter went 5-1 with a 2.65 ERA in 85 innings, filling roles from long relief to low- and high-leverage situations, and he eventually became the club's primary setup man during its pennant chase in September.