In cities with two competing clubs, one team is always going to come out on top. In New York baseball, the Yankees are generally the top dog. While the Bronx Bombers may have made headlines by signing Gerrit Cole in free agency, the New York Mets managed to make a smart deal of their own, poaching Dellin Betances from their crosstown rival.
Betances might have the star power of Cole or someone like Anthony Rendon, but the signing still represents a shrewd piece of business. For all of the Mets’ struggles, they may have finally gotten their man.
Dellin Betances’ career in New York
While almost every young athlete dreams of playing for their home town team, Dellin Betances lived that reality. The pitcher grew up in New York City and even saw David Wells’ perfect game in person; over time, he started focusing more and more on baseball.
Before long, Betances was making a name for himself as a high school pitcher. His height and fastball started attracting national attention; he committed to play at Vanderbilt University but chose to sign with the Yankees after they snagged him in the eighth round of the 2006 MLB draft. Betances reported to the Staten Island Yankees and started his road to the show.
After transitioning from a starter to a reliever, Betances burst onto the MLB scene in 2014. While he still bounced around a bit—he shared closing duties before moving into a set-up role after the arrival of Aroldis Chapman—the pitcher established himself as an elite reliever capable of blowing any batter away. Injuries, however, managed to slow the big man down; he missed virtually the entire 2019 season with a shoulder issue and a torn Achilles tendon.
Moving across town to the Mets
At the end of the 2019 season, Dellin Betances became a free agent. While he’ll still be pitching in the Big Apple next year, the big reliever won’t be wearing pinstripes anymore.
On Christmas Eve, Betances and the Queens club agreed to a one-year, $10.5 million contract; the pitcher will also have an additional player option if he wants to return for 2021.
“I love New York,” Betances said in a statement. “I grew up in Manhattan. Went to high school in Brooklyn. Played minor league ball in Staten Island. Made it to the big leagues in the Bronx. Now, I’m excited to go win a World Series with the Mets in Queens. Thanks to Fred and Jeff, Brodie, and all the other Mets staff who worked so hard to make possible this next step in my New York journey. Merry ChristMets! Let’s Go METS!”
If everything works out, the Mets may have finally gotten their man
Last season, Edwin Diaz was supposed to be a stud in the Mets bullpen; instead of piling up saves, he crumbled in New York. Dellin Betances will give the club a bite of the cherry.
The Mets now have Diaz, Jeurys Familia, and Betances in the bullpen. While that ideally that gives the club an arm for the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning, Carlos Beltran will also have options. If Betances isn’t ready to start the season, Familia and Diaz can handle the load; if Diaz or Familia implode, Betances has proven that he can close and handle the pressures of pitching in New York City.
While the deal is far from risk-free—there’s no guarantee that Betances will be ready for Opening Day and, even if he’s back in action, no one knows if he’ll ever be the same pitcher—it’s a good gamble for the Mets. If things don’t click, the Mets haven’t wasted many resources; it things work out, though, they’ll finally have a bullpen ace at a bargain price.