St. Louis Cardinals: Making a case for a Dellin Betances trade

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 05: Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees delivers the pitch during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game one of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 5, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 05: Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees delivers the pitch during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game one of the American League Division Series at Progressive Field on October 5, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Dellin Betances has reportedly fallen out of favor after a rough 2017 and a public spat with team president Randy Levine in February of this past year. How much sense would a trade for the super-reliever make for the St. Louis Cardinals?

After an upstart season ended merely one win shy of a trip to the World Series, the New York Yankees appear primed for the future and ready to become the next great ‘build through the farm system’ success story, maybe like the St. Louis Cardinals.

Between Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres and many others, the baby bombers look stacked for several years to come.

However, the Bronx isn’t rumbling over excitement for the future, it’s rumbling over unrest with the present.

On Thursday morning, it was stunningly announced that Joe Girardi would not be returning as manager of the New York Yankees, after spending ten years at the pinstriped helm. Yankees’ brass have refused to comment on the reasoning behind Girardi’s firing, but that doesn’t really matter.

What matters is even with a team, which appears so incredibly set up for future success, the Yankees are still actively looking to switch things up. As Mark Teixiera theorized on ESPN, Girardi was fired because he essentially got stale to the front office, and Yankee brass “probably just wanted a different voice.”

One of the main criticisms of Joe Girardi among the New York fan base this season was his usage of Dellin Betances. The 6’8” right hander certainly didn’t had a poor 2017 campaign (1.2 fWAR over 59.2 IP), but there were many struggles. Betances walked a career high 6.64 batters per nine innings and was only worth a career low 0.05 win probability added.

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 16: Dellin Betances
NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 16: Dellin Betances /

Because of this, Girardi was forced to remove Betances from his late inning role in favor of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle, and the former Yankees’ skipper was quite reluctant to do so until he absolutely had to, causing quite a stir among those in and around the franchise.

From what I’ve read, the ‘final straw’ for many Yankee fans appeared to come during Betances’ 9th inning appearance during game three of the ALCS. With the game completely in control and New York leading 8-0, Betances came on for mop-up duty. He threw ten pitches, eight of them for balls, and walked the only two hitters he would face.

New York City being New York City, there is now a strong movement and feeling around the Yankees that Betances should and will be moved this offseason, with FanSided’s ‘Call to the Pen’ even putting together 4 possible trade destinations for the big right hander.

One of those 4 teams? You guessed it, the St. Louis Cardinals. 

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Needless to say, I’m incredibly intrigued.

Betances, regardless of his 2017 season, is one of the finest relief pitchers in the game. Over a 3-year stretch from 2014-2016, the Yankees’ ace reliever posted a 1.99 FIP, 2.04 xFIP, 14.2 K/9 and 9.04 win probability added, all coming together for 8.5 fWAR in 247 innings pitched.

That’s exceptional value from a reliever, if you were wondering.

So, if Dellin Betances truly is available, how would he fit with the St. Louis Cardinals?

Let’s start by finding Betances’ value.

Dellin Betandes will be entering his second season of arbitration. Following invaluable research from The Point of Pittsburgh, we’ll use a 40-60-80% model to determine his year-2 salary.

In a highly contested affair last year, Betances made $3 million during his first arbitration, so adding a 60% increase to that first year salary would estimate his 2018 contract value at $4.8 million.

In trading for Betances this offseason, the St. Louis Cardinals would be getting a top quality reliever with two full seasons of relatively inexpensive control. Considering John Mozeliak’s desire to find a closer from outside the organization, Betances’ place with the St. Louis Cardinals is quite clear. St. Louis needs quality relievers, Betances is a quality reliever.

It almost makes too much sense, but what would the Cardinals be giving up?

The potential return package all depends on where the Yankees’ front office believes the team is. If Brian Cashman and co. deem New York as a solidified contender, they’ll be looking for Major League ready pieces. If they deem the Yankees still needing pieces for the future, they’ll be looking to continue stacking up prospects.

Personally, I believe the first scenario is far more likely, and New York will come shopping for pitching. That being said, I believe the Cardinals would be wise to build a return package around Michael Wacha.

Wacha, coming off a career high fWAR (3.2) and his lowest FIP since 2013 (3.63) is comparable to Sonny Gray, whom the Yankees acquired this past July. Wacha, like Gray, is entering his age-27 season with five years of Major League experience under his belt and a respectable career FIP below four.

New York, with Masahiro Tanaka’s future in doubt, retirement knocking on CC Sabathia’s door, Michael Pineda out for at least the first few months of 2018, and Jordan Montgomery unable to truly be relied on as a #3 or #4 starter, are in significant need of starting pitching.

So, from a Yankees perspective, Michael Wacha makes a lot of sense.

ST. LOUIS, MO – JUNE 17: Michael Wacha
ST. LOUIS, MO – JUNE 17: Michael Wacha /

In addition, I would also look to add either Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty into the return package – as ‘Call to the Pen’ mentions in their original article.

So, to recap, the St. Louis Cardinals acquire out of favor New York Yankees’ reliever Dellin Betances and his two years of control in exchange for two years of Michael Wacha and three years of Randal Grichuk.

Next: 5 Under the Radar Impact Bat Candidates

Plenty of relief options are out there for the St. Louis Cardinals to shop for, all that’s left is for the front office to make it happen.