New York Mets went into the offseason knowing what exactly ruined their chances of returning to the MLB postseason for the first time since 2017. It was the failure by their bullpen that cost the team big so Brodie Van Wagenen and his front office set off on a mission to fix that issue.
On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, they might have found their man with their biggest signing this winter. Former Yankees reliever Dellin Betances, who appeared in just a single game in 2019 because of injuries that remain a concern, has signed a one-year contract with New York that includes a 2021 player option. The full value of the deal with signing bonuses is $10.5 million.
Before getting sidelined last season, Betances was one of the most consistent relief pitchers in MLB for more than four years. After being named an All-Star and finishing 3rd in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, the New York native went on to participate in three more editions of the All-Star Game.
He holds a 2.36 lifetime ERA in the majors. In addition, he hasn’t recorded an ERA higher than 3.08 in any of his five full Major League campaigns, pitching under 1.50 ERA on two occasions. Between 2014 and 2016, his 1.76 ERA ranked third among qualified relievers across Major League Baseball.
The Mets went big on a bullpen addition for the second offseason in a row. Last winter the trade with the Mariners that saw Edwin Diaz put on a Mets jersey definitely didn’t live up to the expectations despite him coming off a 57-save campaign.
New York beat out solid competition for Betances in the Yankees, his former club, and the Phillies, a division rival that was ready to overpay for a reliever of his calibre. Van Wagenen has switched his focus towards the bullpen, and has been successful thus far.
Seth Lugo, Justin Wilson and Brad Brach all performed well during the 2019 season. Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia can hardly get worse in terms of production on the mound, and Michael Wacha is also ready to provide depth.
As long as the former three pitchers duplicate what they did this year, and Betances stays off the field for as short a time as possible, the Mets will finally have a promising relief group to fix their only problem during an 86-76 campaign that was marked by the team massively underperforming before the break.
While the way Diaz declined in 2019 has left a bad taste for Mets people, it only makes sense to address the team’s biggest weakness after Diaz and Familia had career-worst campaigns that brought the team down despite having one of the best rotations in baseball. When Betances overcomes his injury woes, he is one of the best relievers in the business and the numbers support this statement.
It certainly seems that the concerns Mets fans had with Diaz before he came to Flushing do not apply to Betances: first, he was a consistently great reliever before getting injured as opposed to Diaz, who has so far been a one-season wonder. Second, he’s desperate to rebuild his market value so that he finds a long-term home come next offseason, unlike Diaz last year. Third, Betances has the experience of playing in a big market like NYC, which Diaz didn’t have before his 5.59 ERA campaign in the Big Apple.
However, they actually have something in common going into the 2020 season, which happens to be one of big expectations for the Metropolitans – their on-field performance, either good or bad, will likely decide the directions of their respective careers for years to come. Betances’ next contract, in terms of both value and team, will depend on his 2020 campaign; another disappointment for Edwin Diaz, meanwhile, wouldn’t help him in his arbitration hearings next offseason.
The Mets are very lucky to have that. Betances has delivered when playing a full season, Diaz and Familia can’t decline more than in 2019, and Lugo and Wilson were the spark that new manager Carlos Beltran hopes to maintain in his first season in charge.
Betances, whose value seems great in his prime, caps off a very promising bullpen, potentially fixing the Mets’ worst issue that put an end to their postseason hopes in 2019. They are still in talks to sign or trade for a powerful outfield bat. Things are always bright at Citi Field… until Opening Day comes.