Free agent closer David Robertson is set to make big money this offseason. The New York Yankees recently signed reliever Andrew Miller to a four year deal worth $36 million. Robertson reportedly has an offer for three years and $39 million in hand but expect him to sign for more than that.
The 29 year-old Robertson has been one of the top strikeout artists in baseball over the course of his seven year career with the Yankees.
In that time frame he’s fanned 32 percent of hitters, the 10th best mark and the highest among relievers that have thrown at least 350 innings.
In the last four seasons Robertson has authored a 2.20 ERA and 7.6 fWAR. He’s established himself as one of the best relievers in baseball, and he had no issues with transitioning to the closer role last season. At 5’11 he might not look like a typical closer, and his fastball sits in the low 90s.
However, Robertson makes his living with an excellent cutter and a devastating knuckle curve. Over the years he’s grown to rely more and more on the cutter to the point where he utilized it on 55 percent of his pitches in 2014.
The four-seam fastball constituted less than 10 percent of his pitches. Robertson’s go-to secondary pitch is the knuckle curve, which he will throw upwards of 30 percent of the time. It combines excellent velocity at 80-85 miles per hour with true 12-6 break, making it very difficult for both right-handed and left-handed batters.
Giving big money to relief pitchers has often proved unwise. The Philadelphia Phillies decision to hand out four years and $50 million to Jonathan Papelbon is not looking pretty as the veteran closer has seen his fastball velocity dip into the low 90s. Plenty of other examples exist. But, Robertson is elite and relatively young. A deal such as the one he’s seeking would not be out of the question.
Though the Yankees have already dipped into their deep pockets to sign Miller, re-signing Robertson is not off the table. With Dellin Betances and Miller, the back end of their bullpen is already frighteningly good. Keeping Robertson in the mix would make the late innings downright unfair.