Phillies Interested in Dellin Betances, Austin Romine

In addition to Didi Gregorius, the Phillies are also reportedly interested in fellow Yankees free agents Dellin Betances and Austin Romine.

The Phillies seem to be all about adding on former members of the New York Yankees.

First they hired Joe Girardi as manager, then Brian Barber as director of amateur scouting. And, recently, there has been the rumored interest in free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius.

Now, two more Yankees free agents are being linked to possibly reunite with their former manager in red pinstripes come the 2020 season: right-handed reliever Dellin Betances, and catcher Austin Romine.

According to the New York Post, the now-Girard-led Phillies have an interest in Betances and Romine “as the free-agent market is expected to gain more traction heading into the Winter Meetings that open next Sunday in San Diego.”

From 2014 to 2018, Betances was among the best relievers in baseball and earned four All-Star nods. In 349 appearances and 373 1/3 innings, he combined to post a 2.22 ERA, 1.018 WHIP and 14.6 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.

This past season was a different story for the New York, New York, native, however, as he faced just two batters (both strikeouts). Betances suffered from a right shoulder impingement in spring training, an oblique injury discovered in June, and a partial tear in his left Achilles tendon in September. The Post writes:

Instead of entering free agency with a chance to land a four-year deal that would have dwarfed the recent $34 million for four years that 31-year-old lefty Drew Pomeranz got from the Padres after two strong months in relief this past season for the Brewers, it is hard to gauge what Betances will receive after making $7.125 million this past year.

Addressing the bullpen is perhaps the Phillies’ second-biggest need, behind starting pitching, this offseason. The team has spent nearly $60 million on relievers (Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek and David Robertson) over the past two years. This trio, the Post writes, has only appeared in a combined 127 games due to injuries.

Betances would likely be a low-risk, high-reward situation, which is exactly what the team needs to avoid another similar situation. Also, he has experience as a closer, a role which Girardi could also be looking to solidify this offseason.

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Romine, 31, would be an upgrade over the Phillies’ switch-hitting backup catcher Andrew Knapp. This past season, Romine slashed .281/.310/.439 with 12 doubles, eight home runs, 35 RBI, 10 walks and 50 strikeouts spanning 72 games and 240 plate appearances. The Post writes:

[Romine] is considered by some to be the premier backup catcher in the big leagues and is in demand after making $1.8 million this past season when the Yankees leaned heavily on the 31-year-old while Gary Sanchez spent two stints on the IL.

If Romine is seeking a deal anywhere close to Travis d’Arnaud‘s recent two-year, $16 million agreement with the Atlanta Braves, he may be out of the Phillies’ price range. Also, it would be difficult for Romine to play the nearly 75 games he has averaged over this past three seasons, considering starter J.T. Realmuto appeared in 145 games in 2019.

Knapp is among the Phillies’ nine non-tender candidates; if the club part ways with Knapp and non-tenders him come this Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline, it would have to suggest they have another catcher in mind to back up Realmuto next season and beyond.

It will be interesting to see if Betances, Gregorius and/or Romine reunite with Girardi this offseason. With the Winter Meetings near, we could find out sooner than later.