In 2019, just about every member of the Yankees’ roster was impacted by injuries. Several players missed all (or most) of the season, including Dellin Betances. There’s never a good time to be sidelined with injuries, but it is especially unfortunate that this happened right before he hit free agency for the first time.
Like Luis Severino, Betances started the season on the injured list. While it’s normal to enter spring training with lower velocity, the right-hander’s never got up to where it should have been. He was ultimately diagnosed with a shoulder impingement. In June, he experienced a setback in the form of a lat strain and was shut down once again. Betances finally made his season debut on September 15, and somehow suffered a partially torn Achilles tendon which ended his year once and for all.
In the grand scheme of things, it makes sense for the Yankees to bring back several members of the 2019 squad who are now free agents. That list includes Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius, and Betances should be right there with them. The right-hander has been a critical piece of the bullpen for years, posting a 2.36 ERA, 177 ERA+, and 14.6 K/9 during his eight years with the Bombers. He was solid in 2018, and despite not earning his fifth consecutive All-Star nod, he was worth 1.7 bWAR (his highest mark since 2015).
Finally, some good injury news: it was reported that Betances would not need surgery for his Achilles injury. He should be healthy and ready to pitch come spring training. The Phillies have shown an interest in him, but Brian Cashman revealed that he has been in contact with Betances as well. While the Yankees have plenty of internal bullpen options without him, their current depth chart consists of the likes of Luis Cessa, Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder, Jonathan Loaisiga, Chance Adams, and Stephen Tarpley. It should be an easy decision to give one of those spots to Betances.
Since he is coming off of a lost season, Betances won’t get the payday he otherwise would have deserved. That is tough luck for him, but is the kind of thing the Yankees would normally take advantage of. MLB Trade Rumors predicted he’d sign a one-year, $7 million deal. As long as he can stay healthy, he just needs to put up decent numbers in 2020 to set himself up for better fortune on the free agent market next offseason.
The 2019 bullpen was supposed to be the best ever with the addition of Adam Ottavino, but the Yankees never got to fully experience that since Betances missed out on the entire season. They have a chance to get the band back together now, and they should take it.