Dellin Betances’ return to the Yankees was a short one.
The star reliever lasted just eight pitches following a five-and-a-half-month recovery from a right shoulder impingement and strained lat as he partially tore his Achilles tendon after landing awkwardly on the mound on Sunday.
Surgery has not been ruled out just yet, but the Yankees and Dr. Martin O’Malley at the Hospital for Special Surgery are initially suggesting a more conservative treatment.
He will miss the remainder of the 2019 season, regardless, capping off a nightmare contract year for the 31-year-old.
With unrestricted free agency approaching this winter, Betances was poised to score a major deal after developing into one of the best late-inning arms and strikeout men in baseball.
In five full seasons dating back to 2014, the righty posted a 2.22 ERA and a whopping 607 strikeouts in just 373.1 innings of work.
The Yankees were reportedly working with Betances back in February on a contract extension shortly after striking a deal with center fielder Aaron Hicks, per MLB insider Jon Heyman, but a deal was unable to be worked out before the start of the season.
Seeing as Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen and Yankees closer, Aroldis Chapman, signed deals between $80 million -$86 million, a healthy Betances could have received a similar deal.
An injury-riddled 2019, though, saw any possibility of a mega-deal like that evaporate as the market for Betances will be far more limited.
So what should the Yankees do with Betances now?
Betances has to realize that he’s not going to get a long-term deal worth anything near Chapman or Jansen numbers. Even if he was offered such a contract, the compensation would be stifled due to health concerns.
Both Betances and the Yankees would likely be looking for a short, one-to-two-year “show me” deal to confirm that the reliever hasn’t lost any of his stuff.
It would be a showing of good faith by the Yankees to instigate such talks while ensuring their stellar bullpen remains intact.
Should Betances show that he hasn’t missed a beat in 2020, talks of a larger extension would surely follow.