Chicago Cubs: Could Dellin Betances make sense for the Cubs?

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 17: Kyle Schwarber
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 17: Kyle Schwarber /

The Chicago Cubs could use help in the bullpen for 2018, and there may be one stud reliever that will be available this offseason.

As the Chicago Cubs have shown throughout the regular season and postseason, the bullpen has been shaky. It just so happens there is a reliever that has had a high level of success, that may soon be available.

Let’s divulge into that possibility.

It’s worth considering

Kyle Schwarber for Dellin Betances. I’ve written quite a bit this year about Schwarber, defending him with earnest as far as his worth to the Cubs and how his bosses view him.

I’ve maintained he would not be traded during the season, and considering Theo Epstein’s history with him, would have been shocked if the Cubs traded him. But alas, there still stands reason that eventually, someone will be traded off the major league roster. At least for this scenario, Schwarber is logical and it’s twofold.

By the sound of it, Betances, a 29-year-old All-Star reliever with a ton of potential and success, could be about done with the New York Yankees. Schwarber just played his first full season and despite the well-chronicled struggles, socked 30 home runs.

Imagine him as an AL DH, and in Yankee Stadium.

Schwarber has his defensive struggles, yet has made the improbable catches during his time in the outfield, and has a great arm. That catcher’s arm.

He also can have his outfield adventures such as the two-error miscue against the Nationals in Game three.

Highly talented but expendable?

Betances comes off a season in which he went 3-6 with a 2.87 ERA, 100 strikeouts, and 44 walks. He also features among the highest strikeout ratios among relievers, leading that category in 2016.

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This was Betances’ fifth season, and the four-time All-Star, including 2017, has made at least 65 appearances since 2014. His ERA was still lower than last (3.08), and he had a sub-2 ERA in 2014-15.

In the postseason, however, things have not gone kindly for Betances, who has made four appearances and has not recorded an out since Game 4 of the ALDS against Cleveland.

In his only ALCS action versus Houston in Game 3, he walked two, allowed a run, and left to a chorus of boos. Betances also worked as the closer for a time during Aroldis Chapman‘s midseason injury and struggles.

Then before the season, there was the arduous arbitration fallout.

The Yankees won their case, and Betances ended up with a contract of $3 million. Betances wanted $5 million, which Yankees president Randy Levine found unfathomable, and took his apparent grudge public.

Yankees are stocked

As it stands, the Yankees bullpen is made up of several highly-valued relievers, including Chapman at the back-end, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle coming over from the White Sox in July, and Chad Green who debuted last year and has emerged as one of Joe Girardi’s top weapons.

As for Betances, he remains under team-control through 2019.

The Yankees have also had a time trying to figure out their production from the DH spot in the playoffs. Through the ALDS that spot was hitless, and it wasn’t until Chase Headley recorded a hit in Game 3 against the Astros in the ALCS did they see any production there.

Schwarber has a slash of .327/.422/.455 in the postseason alone. Like Betances, he is under team control and made just over $500k this year. Headley is also in the fold for another year for the Yankees, and Todd Frazier is an impending free agent.

On paper the Schwarber for Betances swap makes sense. It appears with utmost certainty that Betances will don a new uniform for 2018. The area to be concerned about with Betances are his struggles with control as he doubled his walk rate (6.64) from a year ago (3.45).

Next: Looking back at last season and remembering the good

Schwarber, while raw, and who I believe will continue to round out offensively, does have his support among Cubs’ brass. Yet, if there’s an opportunity to consider a high-profile reliever, a potential trade would also improve the ripple effect of finding more permanent fixtures for the other Cubs in the lineup such as Ian Happ.

We’ll just have to see how things play out, especially considering a contract extension for All-Star closer Wade Davis are among the highest priorities for the Cubs.