On Retirement: Dellin Betances
After a 10-year MLB career (8 in the Bronx), Dellin Betances announced on Wednesday that he was retiring from baseball. Thank you, Dellin!
Yankees Career (2011-2019):
The Minor Leagues (2006-2013)
Drafted in the 8th round of the 2006 MLB First Year player draft, Dellin Betances was just one of two high schoolers that the Yankees were able to sign (the other being 3rd rounder Zach McAllister), enticing Betances with the 3rd highest slot bonus ($1,000,000) in their entire draft class (behind 1st rounder Ian Kennedy, $2.25M and 2nd rounder Joba Chamberlain, $1.15M).
Dellin Betances would start his first professional season as a starter in 2006 with the GCL Yankees in Rookie League ball. Betances was a notable name at the time, being ranked as the #100 prospect by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, though he had a lot of minor leagues to go through.
In 2007 he was with the Staten Island Yankees (Class A-), 2008 was (mostly) the Charleston RiverDogs (Class A), 2009 was with the then-Tampa Yankees (Class A+), 2010 was much the same while adding in a short stint with the Trenton Thunder (Double A) at the end of the season. He would crack all three major prospect lists after this year, going into 2011 as a consensus Top-50 prospect.
2011 was a full season in Trenton and part season with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders (Triple-A) before a quick MLB stint of just 2 games. He would slightly move up prospect rankings again before 2012, which was a season split between Double and Triple-A (with no MLB call-up). Starting in 2013 he would transition into a reliever role, was a member of the "Scranton Shuttle", and then in 2014 he would become a reliever with a comfortable spot in the bullpen at the MLB level from then on.
The Major Leagues (2014-2019)
The 2014 season was Dellin Betances third year to play in the major leagues (2011, 2013), but it was his first going into it as a big leaguer. And he did not disappoint. As a rookie reliever, Betances quickly established himself as a workhorse and Joe Girardi made sure to use him as such. He pitched 90 (!) innings in relief over 70 games during that rookie season to a 1.40 ERA (274 ERA+), threw 134 strikeouts, and had a WHIP of 0.778 en route to an All-Star appearance and finishing 3rd in the AL Rookie of the Year. From then on it was no question where Betances stood for the organization: top tier back-end reliever. (Unfortunately for Betances, David Robertson was the Yankees closer that year.)
In 2015, Betances continued this same level of dominance out of the back-end of the 'pen. He was used more this season (74 games) though he still pitched a few less innings (84.0) with a 1.50 ERA (271 ERA+) throwing 131 strikeouts with a 1.012 WHIP by seasons end. He was an All-Star again and received some down-ballot AL Cy Young award votes. (While he recorded 9 saves, unfortunately for Betances, Andrew Miller was the Yankees closer that year.)
In 2016, Betances' stats took a little bit of a dip from being otherworldly. This isn't to say he wasn't good. He still was, producing to a 3.08 ERA (140 ERA+) over 73.0 innings while adding another 126 strikeouts to his totals and having a WHIP of 1.123. This was Betances' third straight All-Star season. (While he recorded 12 saves, unfortunately for Betances, Aroldis Chapman was the Yankees closer for most of that year.)
Going into the 2017 is when the Yankees front office and Betances really started to butt heads over salary. While he argued during his pre-arbitration years for higher salaries (and was not awarded them), going into his first arbitration year is when things really started to take a downturn. I won't go into it much, but it is an important part of his time in the Bronx. That season, he pitched to a 2.87 ERA (158 ERA+) over 59.2 innings, 100 strikeouts, and a 1.223 WHIP. This was also his 4th straight All-Star appearance.
2018 was much the same as the past two seasons with stats of a 2.70 ERA (156 ERA+) over 66.2 innings, 115 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.050. Betances missed the All-Star game that season and this would also be his final season to reach 100 strikeouts, doing so for 5 years in a row as a reliever (which is incredibly impressive).
The 2019 season was over quickly for Betances, who suffered a right shoulder injury in spring training and recovered in time to pitch just 0.2 innings in September before getting injured again with a partial tear in his left Achilles tendon.
Unfortunately, this would be the end of his time in the Bronx. A great reliever for a good half a decade who the front office argued with and whose injuries caught up to him.
After the Yankees:
New York Mets (2020-2021):
While it seemed to be a great "we got you, Yankees!" move for the crosstown "rival" New York Mets to sign a stalwart of the Yankees bullpen, by this time Dellin Betances was not the same player. He was signed to a 1-Year/$10.5 million deal for 2020 with a vesting option for 2021 at $6 million (with a $3 million buyout).
That 2020 season did not go well for the Mets and Betances as he pitched just 11.2 innings to a 7.71 ERA around a right lat injury.
Betances would stay with the Mets through 2021, starting the season with a single inning of work before a right shoulder injury took away the rest of his season.
That would be the end of his Mets career.
Los Angeles Dodgers (2022):
The Los Angeles Dodgers tried to take a chance on Betances with a minor league contract for the 2022 season as a great buy-low potential candidate.
It didn't work out as Betances in Triple-A pitched to a 11.77 ERA over 13 innings and was released in the middle of August, 2022.
Did He Deserve Better?
While I believe the Yankees should have probably treated him better, I understand that baseball is a business. Had Betances not argued about pre-arbitration salary could that have played better during his arbitration years? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, from his Yankees career he probably deserved a bit better from the front office.
However, Betances did manage his way into a healthy payday from the New York Mets for very little MLB work. (Note: I am not discrediting the work he had to put into injury rehab.) From that standpoint, the New York Mets deserved better from Betances.
Ultimately, I think everything evened out at the end.
Dellin Betances was a great Yankees reliever during the mid-2010's. He was a fan favorite, he was a flashy and fun player to watch, and having a kid from the Bronx on the Yankees and pitching so well was awesome.
It was just a shame to see politics, money, and especially injuries, have the organization and fans turn sour on him after his 5 years of dominance were over.
He was and should be remembered as a great member of some dominant Yankees bullpens...even if he never got a chance to prove it as a full-time closer.
Congrats on your retirement! You had a heck of a career. 5 straight 100+ strikeout seasons, 4 straight All-Star game appearances, a top-3 AL ROY finish, and a stretch as maybe the most dominant reliever in baseball between 2014 and 2015.
It was awesome to watch.