Position: Relief Pitcher
Age: April 9, 1985 (33)
Traditional Stats: 8-3, 3.23 ERA, 69 G, 69.2 IP, 1.033 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 11.8 K/9
Advanced Stats: 1.0 bWAR, 1.5 fWAR, 136 ERA+, 2.97 FIP
In 2017, the Yankees were looking to bulk up their bullpen in order to help them make a deep run in the postseason. One of the player the organization turned to was an old friend in Robertson. When Robertson put the pinstripes back on, he was a much better pitcher than the one he was with Chicago.
After posting a 1.03 ERA in the regular season, Robertson would pitch in eight of the Yankees 14 postseason games. Aside from a blowup in Game 6 of the ALCS, Robertson was dominant. While you could be disappointed in a gassed pitcher blowing up in a key game, you have to realize the Yankees would not have even made it to that point without him. After all, if not for his 3.1 scoreless innings in the Wild Card Game, the Yankees never would have been in position to make that comeback.
In many ways, that is indicative of not just what Robertson is but also what he has become.
Up until the point Mariano Rivera retired, Robertson was a key set-up man for the greatest closer in Major League history. After Rivera retired, Robertson became the man for the Yankees, and he performed well, so well in fact, he found himself with a big free agent contract to go to the White Sox.
In his two-and-a-half years with the White Sox, Robertson was a good, albeit not a great, closer. He walked 3.2 per nine while striking out 11.8 per nine. He converted 84.8 percent of his save opportunities. More than his converting his save chances, Robertson was durable.
In fact, over his 11 year Major League career, Robertson has had just two stints on the disabled list. Of note, he has not had a stint on the disabled list since 2014, and he has not landed on the disabled list with an injury to his pitching arm.
While he has been a good closer with the Yankees and White Sox, Robertson was not used in that way last season. Realistically speaking, no matter how good you are, you are not going to be used in that role when the Yankees paid Aroldis Chapman $86 million to be their closer.
Instead, Robertson was used in a variety of roles. Over the course of the season, Robertson made appearances in every inning except the first three. He was predominantly used in higher leverage situations with the Yankees being tied or having a lead. Judging by his only having four blown saves, he did that job.
Overall, that’s what Robertson does – his job. No matter what position you put him in, Robertson does his job. It doesn’t matter if it’s the fourth or the ninth inning. He goes out there, strikes people out, and holds the lead.
Interestingly enough, MLB Trade Rumors predicts the Mets will sign Robertson to a three year $33 million contract. Certainly, those negotiations would be interesting considering Brodie Van Wagenen is a former agent turned GM, and Robertson is representing himself.
Considering Bryan Shaw received a three year $27 million deal ($9 million AAV) last season, the $11 million per year may be a little light for Robertson. After all, even though Robertson is two years older, he strikes out more batters, and he has closing experience. Between that and the escalating prices for free agent relievers, we may see Robertson eclipse the $12 million mark.
As noted in the MMO Free Agent profile for Jeurys Familia, the Mets should be all-in on Robertson and Familia as both pitchers not only have thrived as closers, but they have thrived in New York. While the New York factor may be a bit overstated at times, it should not be completely discounted.
If you have the opportunity to add a versatile reliever who you can trust in pressure situations, you have to do it. When you consider Robertson’s durability, he’s exactly what the Mets need this offseason, and as such, the team should pursue him aggressively.