Robertson seeking one of largest contracts ever for reliever
Free agent closer David Robertson is reportedly seeking one of the largest contracts ever for a relief pitcher, according to ESPNNewYork.com.
Roberston turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Yankees last week, which would have been the highest salary for a closer in Major League history. Instead, Robertson is seeking a deal with more years and “Papelbon money” — a reference to the contract signed three years ago by Jonathan Papelbon.
In 2011, the Phillies signed Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal, the richest contract for a reliever in big league history. That deal would also vest for a fifth year at another $13 million if Papelbon finishes at least 15 games in 2015, bringing the total contract to $63 million over five years.
The Yankees are interested in re-signing Robertson, though that would become a bit more unlikely if indeed Robertson receives a Papelbon-like offer from another team. Yanks general manager Brian Cashman tends to avoid high-paying, long-term contracts for relief pitchers, though that was likely easier to do when Mariano Rivera was holding down the backend of the bullpen every year.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the team remains interested in pursuing a multiyear pact with Robertson, a homegrown product of the organization who will turn 30 in April, and that he has set up meetings with Leventhal at this week’s General Managers Meetings in Phoenix.
“I would have no clue what his market value is going to be,” Cashman said. “Certainly they’ll have an idea; they turned down the qualifying offer based on a lot of parameters, I’m sure, some of which have been discussions they’ve already had in the window that they’ve had a chance to have discussions. It’s hard to tell.”
If Robertson does depart for another team, the Yankees could stay in-house for a replacement by giving Dellin Betances a shot at the closer’s job. Betances went 5-0 with a 1.40 ERA over 70 appearances this season, while also being selected to appear in the All-Star Game and finishing third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
“It’s somewhat of a different mentality, but there were days that [Betances] had to close the game out in the fifth inning, sixth inning, seventh inning,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Tuesday. “It’s a step. I think he’s capable of handling it. We have not named a closer, I can’t tell you who we’re going to sign and what we’re going to do, but obviously with what he did last year, you have a lot of belief in him.”
Robertson, meanwhile, converted 39 of 44 save opportunities and posted a 3.08 ERA in his first season as a closer. With Robertson turning down a qualifying offer, interested teams would also need to surrender their top draft pick in order to sign the 30-year-old closer.
— Paul Casella