It has only been a year and a half since Dellin Betances was ranked in both MLB.com’s and Baseball America’s top 100 prospects. It seems like a long time ago, and that’s due to a long year of struggles in 2012. His 8.3 BB/9 in Triple-A, through 74.2 IP, led to a demotion to Trenton, where he continued to deal with both his command issues and giving up hits. The issues of 2012 did a great deal to the farm system, who lost both of their top starting pitching prospects to inefficiency and injury.
Nothing seemed to change in April, when Betances started the season at Triple-A. Through his first 6 games, he again put up an awful walk rate of 6.0 BB/9.
But since May, he’s pitched out of the bullpen where he and the team have found a way to better manage his control problems, and in 40.0 innings, 21 appearances, the right-hander has pitched to a 1.80 ERA, giving up just 22 hits, 8 runs, 52 strikes outs, and walking 16. Occasionally, he’ll return to his old wild ways, but Betances has shown to be one of the most dominant minor-league relievers when he’s right. In fact, many reporters and scouts believe he still has the best stuff in the organization, which has been widely overlooked thanks to the glaring timing and repetition problems in his mechanics.
Now it seems that the Yankees have a surplus of right-handed pitchers. In the recent Alfonso Soriano trade rumors, Joel Sherman mentions that the Yankees are extremely deep in young and inexpensive right-handed relievers, a valuable asset on the trade market. Sherman specifically mentions Shawn Kelley, Preston Claiborne, Danny Burawa, Betances, and Thommy Kahnle, but the team also showcases Mark Montgomery, Branden Pinder, and Taylor Garrison. This Yankees have been no stranger to developing quality relievers, and the current major league bullpen speaks to how well the organization manages their pieces.
With Betances out of options, the team has a decision to make about reliever. This current trade season looks to be a seller’s market and relievers are in extremely high-demand. Betances has rebuilt his trade value and has team control through the 2019 season. With a full stock of relievers both behind him and in front of him, the right-hander would be one of the few major-league ready pieces that the team could afford to dangle in a trade. With the depth in the system, and the previous struggles Betances has faced, selling now could be selling high, and that’s something the Yankees have done very little of during the Cashman years.
I’m not entirely sure how much Betances would command on the trade market, but regardless of what organization he ends up with, he should be a major-leaguer (again) very soon. If Betances isn’t traded this July, he could be the next call up for the Yankees. The right-hander will be out of options this offseason, and the team will likely want to see more than September numbers if they still see him as a long term option. Losing Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain this offseason won’t be easy on their late-inning depth, and Betances has the potential to step into David Robertson‘s shoes. Outside of seeing what they’ve got, right now, he may be an upgrade over a few struggling relievers like Adam Warren and Chamberlain.
More than likely, it seems that this team will try to sell Chamberlain over Betances, but obviously the return won’t be close to the same. If they do indeed trade Chamberlain, it would likely spell the beginning of the Betances-era, and that is starting to appear like something that we can finally look forward to.