Yankees president changes tune, says Dellin Betances can close now

New York Yankees president Randy Levine may want to stop talking about Dellin Betances. The executive did himself no favors in February, criticizing Betances’ numbers after the team beat him in arbitration.

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At the time, Levine said Betances wanted to be paid like a closer despite the fact that he didn’t “have the stats.” He then said that argument was “like me saying I’m not the president of the Yankees, I’m an astronaut.

Well, you can call Levine an astronaut now because Betances is finally getting a shot at the ninth inning. And, believe it or not, Levine has suddenly changed his stance on the whole issue. Now, the Yankees president believes Betances will do a “great job” in the role.


Before you go applauding Levine for realizing the error of his ways, it’s not like he had a choice. With Aroldis Chapman sidelined due to a shoulder injury, Betances became the logical choice to replace him as the team’s closer. The team needs Betances to succeed, so of course Levine now has his back.

But when the team needed to save a few extra bucks, that wasn’t the case. Levine essentially admitted as much to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.


Levine doesn’t completely come out and say it, but it’s easy to read between the lines. The arbitration process tends to reward relievers who accumulate a high number of saves. Though Betances has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past few years, his low saves total was one of the factors that cost him an extra $2 million. The Yankees likely used Betances’ lack of experience in the ninth inning against him during the arbitration case.

Yankees president Randy Levine has had a sudden change of heart about Dellin Betances. (AP)

From a team perspective, it was the smart play, and not unexpected. Many teams will nitpick stats in order to win an arbitration case. But those details rarely go public, and that’s what makes Levine’s “he’s ready to do it now” quote ring pretty hollow.

The only thing that has changed over the past few months is that the Yankees suddenly need a closer. Now that Betances is in that role, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to matter anymore. Levine and the Yankees knew that all along, of course, but still dragged him through the mud to save a few bucks.

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!