The New York Mets made a big splash in free agency right before the new year, agreeing to terms on an incentive-laden deal that keeps Dellin Betances in New York for at least the 2020 season.
The Yankees neglected to bring Betances back for another season in the Bronx after the flame-throwing reliever endured an injury-plagued 2019 campaign. Betances missed most of the year with a shoulder injury, as well as an achilles injury that was suffered in his short-lived return to the majors in September.
But Mets General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen was not scared off by his medical reports and pulled the trigger on a creative contract that guarantees Betances $10.5 million, including a $6 million player option for 2021 and a $3 million buyout.
This deal is a win-win for Betances and the Mets. If Betances returns to form in 2020, he could decline the option and enter free agency after the season. If he struggles or suffers another injury, he can accept his option and return for the 2021 season, which would bring the money to $13.5 million over the two seasons.
The Mets could come out big winners in this deal. Even if Betances shines and elects free agency after the season, chances are that the team will have had some modicum of success. One could argue that perhaps the single greatest reason why the Mets didn’t clinch a trip to the playoffs last season was their shoddy bullpen.
Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia both struggled mightily, leaving the club short on reliable arms at the end of games. Seth Lugo emerged as a stud in the ‘pen and Justin Wilson had a strong season, but they couldn’t carry the rest of the beleaguered unit. Now, they won’t have to.
Betances has been pretty consistent in his big league career and while he may go through a rough patch or two during the season, he is a proven commodity — one who can shorten and close games. He has not demanded to be the closer, but he can step into the role if needed.
The Mets should enter the season with a competition for the closer’s role, and have Betances, Diaz and Familia fight for the spot. While Spring Training results don’t guarantee regular season success, one of the aforementioned trio is likely to stand out above the others. If it’s Betances, great. If it’s Diaz or Familia, that’s great, too.
The Mets have depth in the bullpen that they have not had in a long time. And with the rotation expected to be among the league’s best in 2020, New York’s bullpen depth can help carry the team past Atlanta, Washington and Philadelphia in the race for the National League East Division title.
Betances makes the Mets better in 2020, and Van Wagenen brought him on board on a relatively affordable contract. With him on board, the pieces are there for the Mets to have an elite bullpen this season. Now, they simply have to perform.