As expected, Yankees closer David Robertson turned down the team’s qualifying offer Monday. It was no surprise – perhaps you and I would accept any offer of $15.3 million for a year’s work – but no player entering free-agency has ever gone that route.
So Robertson is on the open market, the Yankees do have a chance to re-sign him – odds are that is the way things could go, The estimated price tag is something like a 3-year, $43 million deal. Given Robertson, a 29-year-old native of Birmingham, Ala., has earned $11,208,975 in his career, that would be money to assure his station in life after baseball.
Given his performance in 2014, his first as Yankees closer after performing as a key setup man, notching 39 saves, he will have a bunch of suitors to choose from. Indications are Robertson is looking for “Papelbon Money,” which would equal the 4-year, $50 million pact the Phillies gave the former Red Sox closer in 2012.
Though the Detroit Tigers backed away from pursuing Robertson Tuesday, the Washington Nationals, World Series contenders themselves who are letting 2012 Yankees closer Rafael Soriano, who had an inconsistent year, walk, are bound to show interest.
It would be great if Robertson, a home-grown Yankee who went through the system, stayed with in The Bronx, and chances are he will, but if Detroit, Washington or some other club throws a 4-year, $50 million deal at him and he takes it, who could blame him? This is his one shot at the type of money he likely only dreamed about.
And, if that happens, the Yankees’ bullpen will still prosper. Robertson’s departure will not set off a crisis. The Yankees are as well-fortified in the bullpen as any big-league team, now and in the future.
If Robertson departs, Dellin Betances is certainly capable of filling the closer’s role. Granted there are fans who would be apprehensive about that. Scores of fans, as well as us in the media, got spoiled by the automatic save ability of the greatest, Mariano Rivera. Soriano had a nice 2012, but he, like all good closers, blew a save here and there.
Betances will as well. There are those who feel 2014 might have been a fluke – 46 hits allowed and 135 strikeouts in 70 games, 97.2 innings and just 32 walks. Oh, he had issues as a starter in the minors. Want to know what the difference was with Betances in 2014? It had nothing to do with control or strikeouts, but something he, like any closer, had to learn.
Let a scout from a National League team who saw a lot of the Yankees the last few years, answer that query.
“The difference in Betances this year is he learned to forget about baserunners, ignore them and concentrate on the hitters,” said the scout. “Look at what that did for him. He is going to be a tough back-of-the-bullpen guy for years to come.”
Betances is a pretty bright guy when it comes to pitching. He knows what struggles he had before he cleared this major hurdle. If Robertson goes, Betances is ready.
Let’s also look at what the Yankees have coming in the bullpen. Jacob Lindgren, last year’s 2nd round draft pick, with filthy, back-of the-bullpen stuff, ought to arrive in 2015. He has a few kinks to work out, just like Betances did. Then there are three guys who can bring it – right-hander Nick Rumbelow as well as southpaws Tyler Webb and James Pazos, who are coming on fast. They will push themselves into the picture in spring training.
Over the next few years, the Yankees are poised to have one of the stronger bullpens in baseball, with or without Robertson.
Would it be great if he stays put? Absolutely. Would it be a crisis if he walks? Not at all.
We’ll see how it all plays out over the next several weeks.