Dellin Betances has been a star reliever for the New York Yankees but he may not spend his entire career with the organization.
From the time he became a full-time member of the New York Yankees in 2014 up until the dog days of the 2017 summer, there may be no more dominant reliever — whether on the team or in baseball — than Dellin Betances.
In a little less than four seasons in the Bronx, Betances has done almost everything an individual player can do.
He’s made the American League All-Star team in four straight campaigns. He led all MLB relievers in strikeouts in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and is currently fourth in that category this year. He boasts a career ERA of 2.32, career BAA of .168, has pitched an immaculate inning and possesses a fastball/curveball combination that’s as intimidating as his 6’8″ frame.
Despite his impressive resume, Betances is far from perfect.
Of course, no player in Major League Baseball was, is or will be. Dominance notwithstanding, the right-hander’s issues are concerning.
When a pitcher is overly reliant on a breaking pitch, consistency will take a hit. Betances is the epitome of that proposition. Because he’s prone to throw an exorbitant amount of curve balls, he has a tendency to lose the plate. Through 60 appearances, Betances walks almost seven batters per nine innings (6.7) — that’s not a number that reflects dominance.
Betances has also struggled with fatigue throughout his career. In 2014 and 2015, he finished second and first in innings pitched, respectively. But after finishing outside of the top 20 last season–and currently ranking 60th in MLB–it’s hard to justify his career ERA of 4.66 in September/October.
And it’s not only on-field issues Betances has gone through, either.
Was it an odd decision for Joe Girardi to pull Betances out of a September 13 game when he got two outs in the eighth, not to mention being taken out for the struggling Aroldis Chapman for a four-out save? Sure. But after the frustrated reliever failed to look at his manager in the eye when being taken out of the game, his disapproval in the decision was evident even a full 24 hours after the fact.
There’s a fine line between pride and a losing respect for your manager — and it’s not quite clear which side of the fence Betances is on.
With all of the positives and negatives in mind, should the Yankees entertain offers for their homegrown, 29-year-old reliever?
Of course they should.
The organization will return the entirety of their deep and powerful bullpen in 2018. Despite Chapman’s struggles, he still has four years remaining on his contract is necessarily the team’s closer by default. David Robertson is sporting a 1.35 ERA since rejoining the Yankees and is under contract through 2019. Tommy Kahnle has a 26:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22.1 innings pitched and can’t reach free agency until 2021.
And it doesn’t stop there. Chad Green — who’s in his second full big league season and his first as a reliever — looks like the second coming of Betances himself. He not only leads the team in 64.1 innings pitched but also has a downright dominant 99 strikeouts over that span. Adam Warren has quietly been impressive, Chasen Shreve has regained form this season and names like Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder are in the pipeline.
Depth is one reason to put Betances on the trade block.
More importantly, it should be to see what the Yankees can fetch in return.
In today’s baseball ecosystem, effective relievers are a premium, perhaps now more than ever. Since the Kansas City Royals proved an overpowering bullpen wins championships two years ago, perennial playoff clubs have stockpiled the position with the raised expectation of playoff success. Betances, a proven reliever, should yield a top return from would-be contenders.
The Yankees are all too familiar with selling relief arms. Just one year ago, General Manager Brian Cashman unloaded both Chapman and Andrew Miller at the trade deadline and received packages headlined by Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier, two youngsters who currently serve as their top two prospects in the farm system.
With the Yankees’ newfound fondness for acquiring minor league talent to build and reload for the future, a Betances trade would almost certainly net the team a haul similar to what they received for the other two-thirds of No-Run BMC. A move can also help the team acquire a controllable, high-end starting pitcher, something that every franchise covets.
The Yankees will have an interesting conundrum on their hands this winter. Do they keep their supreme-yet-inconsistent talent in the fold or do they address other needs by sending him out of the Bronx?
We’ll find out in the Hot Stove.
Dan Federico is a co-founder of Bronx to Bushville.