There is a chance Dellin Betances and Austin Romine will remain teammates in 2020 — and won’t have to travel far from The Bronx to do so.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Phillies have an interest in the right-handed reliever and the catcher as the free-agent market is expected to gain more traction heading into the Winter Meetings that open next Sunday in San Diego.
The Phillies have been linked to free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius.
After hiring former Yankees manager Joe Girardi to replace the fired Gabe Kapler, the Phillies have to be aware what Betances, Romine and Gregorius bring to the field and clubhouse.
The most curious of the trio is Betances. Entering the 2020 season the New York City native was considered by many to be the premier reliever in baseball from 2014 to 2018 and he entered spring training last February ready for his first stab at free agency.
If Betances, an All-Star from 2014-17, had come close to matching the previous five seasons in which he worked a total of 349 games, allowed 218 hits and struck out 607 batters in 373¹/₃ he easily would have been the top reliever on the free-agent market this offseason.
Nevertheless, because of a right shoulder impingement discovered in spring training and an oblique injury that surfaced in June, Betances’ season consisted of facing two Blue Jays batters, who each struck out looking, on Sept. 15 in Toronto. The next day, it was found Betances had a partial tear in his left Achilles tendon. That injury didn’t require surgery, but ended his season.
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.
During the ALCS against the Astros, the 31-year-old Betances shed the walking boot and accompanied the Yankees to Houston for what turned out to be a season-ending Game 6 defeat.
There are obviously questions teams want answered concerning Betances, but according to a talent evaluator, the 6-foot-8, 265-pounder shouldn’t have to participate in any full-blown showcases for teams.
“Maybe play catch or a bullpen session, but these days a lot of clubs go off the doctors’ report and how far things have progressed,’’ the person said.
After shelling out a combined $57.25 million on relievers Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek and David Robertson since 2018 and getting a combined 127 appearances due to injuries, the Phillies need bullpen help.
As for Romine, he 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.
Should Romine be looking for a chance to start or play more than the 72 games he did this past season, the Phillies might not be a fit because they have perhaps the most complete catcher in baseball in J.T. Realmuto.
Travis d’Arnaud getting two years and $16 million recently from the Braves only can help Romine, who is the better catcher and has hit .262 with 18 homers and 77 RBIs in 149 games in the past two seasons. Should Romine leave, the Yankees are prepared to have Kyle Higashioka back up Sanchez.