If Yankees Were to Trade One of the 'Big Three' Relievers, Who Should Go?

There's been a lot of speculation that the Yankees might be sellers of what little they have at the deadline this year and that doesn't seem unreasonable. The team sits at 18-22 and are 6.5 back of the division and 4.0 back (at the time of this writing) of a wild card spot. Sure, there's still a chance, but anyone who's watched this team a good amount this year can see that they just don't seem to be a legitimate contender. With that said, could the almighty Yankees actually sell at the deadline?

It's certainly a possibility. The problem is the team doesn't really have much on the big league roster to sell. Mark Teixeira has full no trade rights and has stated he will not waive them. Carlos Beltran is providing serviceable offensive production, but with his age and defensive ineptness, his value is still very limited. No team will consider taking on Jacoby Ellsubry's monster contract.

That leaves the only real potential selling pieces as one of the three Yankees relievers that have combined to be the best three-punch combination in the league. In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of trading each if we were forced to move one and what we think is the best option versus what is most likely.

Dellin Betances
Trading Dellin Betances would be a gutsy move considering he's a fan favorite and is one of the better relievers in the game. Most know that Betances features a high 90's fastball backed by a nasty knuckle curve that buckles even elite big league hitters. This has led to the 28 year old having a 1.84 career ERA and sharp 2.33 ERA this year.

Additionally, he's under control the longest (until 2019), for the cheapest of the 'Big Three'. A reliever of this caliber, for such favorable club terms would certainly fetch a good bit on the trade market this summer.

Via MLB.com

It's not all peaches and cream for Dellin, however. Last year in September, Betances slowed considerably giving up 4 home runs and 12 walks in 16.2 innings. This year, Betances has already given up three home runs in 18.2 innings compared to just six he surrendered all last year in 84.0 innings.

Yankees fans probably realize by now that Betances is prone to control problems that lead to his homer and walk problems. That knuckle curve is a feel pitch and it's pretty clear when he's not feeling it.

Still, Betances is an elite reliever that gets the job done the majority of the time. The combination of his age/skill/contract lead me to believe he would certainly get the most return of the 'Big Three' in a trade this year. However, the Yankees would be losing such a potent and financially viable weapon from their team.

Andrew Miller
I was shocked to hear the Yankees were shopping Andrew Miller this offseason. He's a valuable trade chip, yes, but it doesn't seem to be the most professional business practice to trade players just a year into their contract. After all, Miller took less money to sign with the Yankees because he wanted to be in the Bronx.

With this said, Miller is clearly a team first guy and this was further evidenced when he accepted the bump from closer to set up man when Aroldis Chapman was acquired without any protest.

There's also the fact that Miller is a damn good reliever and posted a 2.04 ERA with 36 saves last year in the closer role. This year he's had an ERA of exactly half that at 1.02. What I love about Miller is his ridiculous K/9. Last year Miller had an outstanding 14.6 K/9 (100 K's in 61.2 innings) and this year he's improved to 16.3 K/9.

Via Pinstripe Alley

Miller, like the rest of the 'Big Three,' sports a high 90's fastball and keeps hitters guessing with a nasty slider. He typically has no issues locating these pitches and has only walked one batter in 17.2 innings this year.

Simply put, Miller is one of the best relievers in the league and is so good, he managed to make the top 10 in Cy Young voting last year as a reliever. I would rank Miller's value just behind that of Betances. In my eyes, Miller is a better overall reliever, but his fewer years of control and more expensive annual value will detract some from his market price. This would be a huge loss for the Yankees out of the bullpen.

Aroldis Chapman
Arolids Chapman is probably the best of the 'Big Three,' but probably also has the least amount of value. Many Yankees fans seem to think trading Chapman is the best option, but with only half a year left on his contract, teams probably won't be looking to give up too much for a reliever who will be a free agent after this season.

We all know what Chapman brings to the table. Routine 100+ MPH heat on the fastball and, like Miller, a nasty slider to keep hitters honest at the plate. This combination has led to a lifetime ERA of 2.16 and he's stuck out more than 100 hitters the last four years. He has 145 saves in his four full seasons as a closer.

Via MLB.com

There's not much more that needs to be said about Aroldis Chapman. In my opinion, he's the best and most dominant reliever in all of baseball. His velocity and offspeed combination is just too lethal for hitters to figure out.

As good as he is though, his value is limited, as mentioned earlier. Teams might be hesitant to give up much not knowing if they can entice the Cuban flamethrower to stay after the season is over. This year, it might not be the biggest blow to lose him through a trade, seeing as the team isn't exactly in contention right now.

The Verdict

The Preferred Option: Trade Dellin Betances

To me, this is a pretty simple answer. Betances isn't necessarily the best Yankee reliever, but he's in all likelihood the most valuable. Being able to get the biggest return without giving up the best player in this situation would be a huge win for the Yankees.

It would be nice if the Yankees could work an extension with Arolids Chapman and roll him out after Andrew Miller a few times a week. We've seen how potent the tandem is and the Yankees certainly have the financial resources to work a deal, so long as Chapman is willing.

The Yankees would likely be able to find someone to step into the 7th inning role with Betances gone, granted, I don't think they could find someone to do so as effectively as D-Train can. Johnny Barbato has shown flashes of dominance at times and with some experience and seasoning may be able to take over the job.

Betances alone could probably bring in a solid prospect haul, but adding a Yankee prospect or two could probably come close to getting an 'elite' prospect of sorts which would be huge for the Yankees. If the Yanks could find a partner willing to do something to this effect, they should definitely consider it.

The Most Probable Option: Trade Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees have been needlessly pinching pennies recently, thus an extension/re-signing of Aroldis Chapman is, in all probability, out of the question. That said, they might as well get something for the recently acquired closer.

The team will likely value the fact that Betances isn't eligible to be a free agent until 2019 above all else when considering whether or not to trade him. And he's a very, very good reliever too, even though I consider him to be the least of the 'Big Three.'

I'm not sure what Chapman could pull in. One, maybe two B or C rank prospects? I don't think it'll be much. The Yankees will likely have to add more than just Chapman to bring in a higher rank prospect, which I don't think is the best route to go, but there's no doubt in my mind it's the most likely.

An Alternate Opinion: I asked Steven Eareckson of BBB for his take for another opinion on the subject. His response is below.

It's becoming painfully obvious that the Yankees are simply not a very good baseball team this season. For this reason, the Yankees should be sellers at this year's trade deadline. As fans of the most prestigious franchise in all of sports this may be difficult for us to accept, however it is absolutely necessary to work towards future improvements.

Even if you hold out hope that the Yankees can "compete" for a playoff spot in 2016, you must recognize that is an erroneous argument. Simply competing for a playoff spot is not the goal, winning a championship is. As currently constructed, the 2016 Yankees are in no position to go on a deep playoff run for an array of reasons.

When it comes to selling this July, the Yankees may be forced to deal one of their "big three" relievers- Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, or Aroldis Chapman. While Chapman may appear to be the obvious candidate due to his impending free agency, I contend the Yankees would be better off trading Betances. Chapman may be new to the Bronx, however he is a natural fit. His dominance and ability to attract fans to the ballpark with a 100+ MPH fastball is truly fascinating. I've noticed that his few appearances at Yankee Stadium have been accompanied by a certain buzz that hasn't been felt in the Bronx for quite a few years.

Betances may be great, however he is also the most unpredictable of the bunch. Despite having nasty stuff, it's hard to feel one hundred percent comfortable with him on the mound. That being said, I don't intend to diminish anything he's accomplished here, but he's clearly the weakest link of the three. Considering Betances will not be a free agent for the foreseeable, the Yankees could net a substantial return. Chapman would only be a rental for any potential trade partner, whereas Betances would be a long-term investment thus increasing our return.

The Yankees should also diligently work to extend Chapman. He may have a relatively high price tag, but it's only money and that has never been a problem for the New York Yankees, although the new ownership regime may not necessarily agree.

By: Nick Scott
Featuring: Steven Eareckson
Follow us @BronxBomberBlog

All statistics provided via Baseball-Reference.com and Fangraphs.com


  1. I agree, I think it should be Betances if the Yankees trade one of the big three.


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