Dellin Betances’ 2021 season will end after a single inning, as Mets manager Luis Rojas told reporters (including The Athletic’s Tim Britton) that Betances will undergo surgery on his bothersome right shoulder. No specific timeline was given on how long Betances will be sidelined, or if Opening Day 2022 could be in doubt for the right-hander.
Betances has been on the injured list due to a right shoulder impingement for almost the entire season, since tossing his lone inning of work back on April 7. The reliever had seemingly been making good progress in his recovery while on a minor league rehab assignment, but Betances will now see his third consecutive season ruined by injury.
Since the start of the 2019 campaign, Betances has pitched just 13 1/3 total innings due to a variety of injuries. Another shoulder impingement and then a partially-torn Achilles tendon limited him to only two-thirds of an inning with the Yankees in 2019, and while the delayed 2020 season allowed Betances to recover from his Achilles injury, lat tightness at the end of August ended up cutting short that season after 11 2/3 frames.
Despite the injury cloud hanging over him following the 2019 season, Betances still landed $10.5MM in guaranteed money from the Mets in free agency, with player options for the 2021 and 2022 campaigns. After enacting the first of those player options for 2021, Betances locked in another $3MM, so he has thus far earned $13.5MM for his 12 2/3 innings in a Mets uniform. Since he obviously won’t meet his innings threshold, Betances’ player option for 2022 is only $1MM, but Betances will probably exercise the option anyway, just to ensure some guaranteed money after another lost season.
It wasn’t long ago that Betances was one of the most feared relievers in baseball, with a 2.22 ERA and 40.3% strikeout rate over 373 1/3 innings with the Yankees from 2014-18. That stretch saw Betances make the AL All-Star Game four times, quite an achievement for a non-closer relief pitcher. This dominance made the Mets’ free agent investment seem like a pretty decent bet on the team’s part, though the Mets have unfortunately received next to nothing from Betances. The question now is whether or not Betances can simply get back to any level of health necessary to resume his career as he enters his age-34 season.