Year one of the Yankees’ first season with David Robertson as the full-time closer is rapidly coming to an end. He’s done great in his first year, with 35 saves and an ERA of 2.98 and 77 strikeouts in 51.1 innings of work. In short, he’s been everything the Yankees have hoped for this season – and it’s time to let him go.
Robertson will be a first-time free agent this off-season. At 29 and proven success in the Bronx, he will be worth a lot of money to someone. However, that someone should not be the Yankees. The Yankees, perennial spenders, will almost certainly be in the luxury tax again next year, giving them a 50% rate for all money over the threshold. While Robertson is a great closer, the Yankees have other options and do not need to spend $10+ million per year to keep him.
Yankees fans in their 20s pretty much only know Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer. Many may expect the Yankees to find another legacy arm to hold down the spot for a decade, but it just does not work that way. Having the same closer for years at a time is an ultra-rare commodity. Again, I do not doubt Robertson’s stuff. I expect him to be a top closer for years to come, but the money he will command can be spent elsewhere, or not at all.
Our editor, Billy Brost, mentioned the idea early in the season that the Yankees should trade Robertson and was blasted for it. Now, as the Yankees appear to be missing the playoffs for the second year in a row, and the reality of losing him to free agency becomes a possibility, it seems more and more likely that the Yankees missed a rare opportunity to strengthen its minor league system with a trade.
The Yankees have Dellin Betances and Jacob Lindgren waiting to get their shot at the ninth inning. While Betances is in the middle of a breakout year and Lindgren was just drafted a few months ago, they are both cheap options that can give the Yankees some financial flexibility to get around the rest of its awful contracts.
The Yankees lost Robinson Cano last year for nothing. The Yankees could have gotten someone’s entire Double-A system for him (joking, but a huge haul), and instead relied on hoping he would resign. That completely bombed. The Yankees missed out on trading Robertson. The next best thing is turning the page and forgetting we ever knew him. It might be difficult, it might sting a bit at first, but time heals all wounds. Thanks for the help Dave. It’s not you, it’s us.