1:10pm: Heyman tweets that the White Sox have pulled Robertson back off waivers.
11:50am: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from a source that part of the Yankees’ motivation in making the claim was indeed to prevent the Blue Jays from having an opportunity to acquire Robertson (Twitter link).
8:32am: The Yankees have claimed closer David Robertson from the White Sox on revocable waivers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but a trade between the two sides is seen as unlikely. To this point, according to Heyman, there’s little indication of a deal in the works, and as of late Saturday night there hadn’t even been legitimate discussions between Chicago and New York. It seems probable that the White Sox will elect to pull their closer back off waivers.
Robertson, 30, has spent his entire career with the Yankees aside from this season. He departed as a free agent following the 2014 campaign, electing to sign a sizable four-year, $46MM contract with the Sox. (The Yankees, meanwhile, made their own significant commitment to lefty Andrew Miller: four years, $36MM.)
It’s still far too early to judge that hefty investment from the White Sox, but the early returns have been outstanding. Robertson has a 2.60 ERA with 12.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 (a career-best rate) a 38.3 percent ground-ball rate and 27 saves in 52 innings with the Sox. That ERA would likely be even better were it not for the fact that White Sox rate as one of the worst defensive clubs in all of baseball. SIERA, FIP and xFIP, for instance, all peg Robertson between 1.89 and 2.17 — significantly better than his still-impressive 2.60 ERA.
Robertson is earning $10MM in 2015 and has about $1.97MM remaining on his current salary, plus an additional $36MM through the 2018 season. The Yankees will have until 2:00 ET to work out a trade, per Heyman, indicating that the actual claim of Robertson was made on Saturday afternoon. It’s possible, though, that the Yankees made the claim not so much expecting a deal but more to prevent the division-leading Blue Jays from having an opportunity to add to their bullpen.
Even if that were the case, it wouldn’t mean the Yankees aren’t interested in a reunion. They pursued bullpen help in late July, and Robertson would mark at least the third elite reliever that the Yankees have attempted to acquire to pair with their already dominant late-inning duo of Miller and Dellin Betances. GM Brian Cashman reportedly showed strong interest in both Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman prior to the non-waiver trade deadline last month.
Though his specific trade probably won’t come to fruition, it’s likely that we’ll see a few swaps made prior to midnight. Players acquired on Sept. 1 or later are ineligible for their new team’s postseason roster, meaning that any last-minute trades that contenders wish to make in order to upgrade their potential playoff rosters will need to be completed in the next 14.5 hours.