It may be possible that no single trade addition is capable of the miracle of pulling the 2023 Yankees towards legitimate contention. But, as Yankee fans know all too well, if there was one player capable of the feat, it might just be David Robertson.
Back in 2017, the Yankees reacquired Robertson, along with Todd Frazier and Tommy Kahnle, on the night of July 19 -- remember when trade deadline deals happened well before the deadline? That Yankees team, an early-season surprise, fell to 48-45 that day, coming off a snoozeworthy matinee performance against the Minnesota Twins.
Think of how fondly you remember the '17 Yankees in retrospect? Most of those memories come from April, as well as the post-Robertson version of the team. Almost immediately after D-Rob and crew arrived, the team began playing to their Pythagorean record again, rattling off eight wins in nine games and finishing the season 43-26.
All of this to say ... we knew the 2023 Yankees wouldn't take a similar plunge. We knew there were too many holes to fill and too much money to save to justify a Robertson deadline splurge, including his prorated $10 million salary. Even if the Mets included Tommy Pham or Mark Canha, there was no clear path to building a package that approximated 2017's revitalizers. But then ... the Miami Marlins nabbed Robertson, a fit nearly as odd on the surface as the Yankees. Once firmly in playoff position, Miami has recently dipped to the back of a five-team pack, with the behemoth Padres and surging Cubs behind them. Before pulling this off, they felt more likely to trade away Jon Berti than grab a spark plug.
Jonah Hill may have put it best in Superbad. "You know all those borderline playoff teams that wake up and they're like, 'Ugh, I shouldn't have traded for that expensive closer.' We could be that mistake!!"
Mets trade Yankees fan favorite David Robertson to Marlins
In exchange for Robertson, the Mets acquired two teenaged lottery tickets in 18-year-old shortstop Marco Vargas and his .457 OBP and 19-year-old catcher Ronald Hernández, a supposed defense-first backstop.
Could the Yankees have matched this package? Absolutely. Infielder Keiner Delgado and pitcher Luis Serna, perhaps? But they were never going to. They are cut from a different cloth from the Marlins. They do not believe in the team they built, despite the organization's apparent eternal faith in Brian Cashman. The roster he's created is an unmitigated, lopsided, expensive disaster, and it'll be on his shoulders to fix it again this offseason. Right.
Don't cry because Robertson isn't coming back in the middle of a mixed-up year. Smile because Robertson came back in 2017. But don't forget that that year's Yankee team was just as boring as this one before reinforcements arrived in mid-July.