Report: David Robertson Wants ‘Papelbon Money’


David Robertson has said that he is looking for “Papelbon money” according to Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. This is, of course, referencing Jonathon Papelbon’s 4-year $50 million dollar contract with the Phillies that may vest into a 5-year, $63 million dollar contract. You may as well mark today, November 12th, the day we know Robertson will be leaving the Bronx.

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I have problems with this for a number of reasons. Firstly, Robertson has been a closer for one year. Yes, he has been an above average reliever for years, but he is literally one year into his closing career. There is no history of longevity with Robertson as a closer, so why make the Yankees pay, or anyone else who has lost their mind, $50 million dollars when he was one of a few closers that had an ERA over 3.0 last year?

When the possibility of Robertson leaving came up, it seemed like common sense to get a multi-year deal going to give Dellin Betances some more time to get ready for the closer role. However, as the second half of the year wore on Betances got better and Robertson got worse. Robertson had an ERA of 3.41 after the All-Star break. Does that sound like a $50 million dollar closer? In the same time period Betances had an ERA of 1.30 and struck out 14 more batters in 3.0 innings more of work. Again, why pay $50 million dollars when you have a guy that is much better for $500,000?

Robertson saved 39 games last year, good for 8th in the MLB. Ironically, that is the same mark that Papelbon had last season. Papelbon’s multi-year deal seems to be the pinnacle of what a closer can get on the open market. It has not been matched since, and no closers have shown themselves worthy of a deal like that since. Craig Kimbrel made $7 million dollars in 2014. In 2015, 2016, and 2017 he will make $9 million, $11 million, and $13 million. He is the top dog when it comes to closers. Robertson needs to understand that The Phillies made a mistake in overpaying for Papelbon. That is not a going rate for closers, that is a desperate move by a desperate team. Kimbrel’s contract makes sense as the top a closer can expect to receive and Robertson isn’t half the closer that Kimbrel is. For reference, players had a .142 batting average and a .189 slugging percentage last season against Kimbrel. Against Robertson, they hit .192 and slugged .321. Craig Kimbrel’s slugging percentage against was lower than Robertson’s batting average against.

Robertson can ask for Papelbon money. Someone may even give it to him. However, the Yankees have enough arms in the bullpen, including the best not closing reliever in baseball last year, to tell Robertson to take a hike and enjoy that compensation pick. If Robertson wants to remain a Yankee, he has to come back to Earth.