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David Robertson Rumors
The Rays are compiling a list of managerial candidates and could announce a formalized list by the end of the week, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. The team’s goal is to have a new skipper in place by Thanksgiving, according to Mooney, who also notes that the Rays are taking the unusual step of asking their players on the qualities they would like in a new manager. “We don’t really bother ourselves with what is the norm,” Silverman explained. “We do what we think is right for our ballclub. They’re an important voice into who leads our clubhouse.”
More from the AL East…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds to the recent Adam Lind trade speculation by writing that those looking to guess the first significant trade of the offseason would be wise to bet on the Blue Jays moving Lind. There are “strong indicators” that the Jays would like to reallocate the funds that are dedicated to Lind, so the team could very well exercise his $7.5MM club option and deal him. Sherman lists the Mariners and Athletics as potential fits, noting how well his platoon role fits the A’s model.
- Meanwhile, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that he doesn’t see the Mariners as a fit for Lind given the team’s bulk of left-handed bats. While I agree that it’s an imperfect fit, Lind strikes me as a reasonable fit there if the club can find a right-handed bat to pair with him at DH.
- In his latest Yankees Inbox, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com writes that the team’s likely preference would be to retain David Robertson for one more season before handing the ninth inning over to Dellin Betances. That, of course, makes a qualifying offer likely, though I can’t envision any scenario where Robertson would accept the offer. Hoch also writes that Ichiro Suzuki will be seeking more at-bats than the Yankees have to give, even in a part-time role. Hoch wonders if he’d be a fit for an NL club who could use him off the bench and in the late innings while giving him occasional starts in the outfield as well.
The Yankees wouldn’t have been willing to offer J.J. Hardy more than two guaranteed years in free agency, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. The Bronx Bombers had “mild interest” in Hardy had he reached the open market but their recent underwhelming returns on veteran free agents left the team hesitant about a longer-term deal. Hardy received three years and a vesting option for a fourth in his extension with the Orioles. Madden predicts the Yankees will look to sign Stephen Drew or Asdrubal Cabrera to a one-year pillow contract as both players look to rebuild their value.
Here’s some more from the 27-time World Series champs…
- David Robertson could be the first player to accept a qualifying offer, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post feels the closer will remain with the Yankees for at least the 2015 season. The team figures to issue the $15.3MM, one-year qualifying offer to Robertson as the attached draft pick compensation could hurt his free agent market and make him easier to sign to a long-term deal. From Robertson’s perspective, accepting the QO would ensure he gets at least one big payday in an uncertain free agent closer market and he’d still be in position to land another big deal in an extension with the Yankees or perhaps even another qualifying offer next winter. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently examined Robertson in a free agent profile and predicted he could receive a four-year, $52MM deal this offseason.
- Now that Brian Cashman has been extended for three years, the general manager will be able to “create a Yankees team in his own image, with his own vision and his own players, and to finally build his own legacy,” ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews writes. This may seem odd given that Cashman has already been the team’s GM since 1998, though Matthews argues that Cashman has never had to truly build a team since the Yankees always had the “Core Four” backbone in place since the Gene Michael/Bob Watson management era.
- In a conference call with reporters (including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch), Cashman said that “I think it’s best to assume that we should have contingencies in place” should Alex Rodriguez no longer be able to handle regular third base duties. “Until we get to see it on a daily basis, I think it’s just hard to assume anything,” Cashman said. Joe Girardi recently spoke with Rodriguez about working out at first base, and A-Rod could provide some valuable depth at the position given Mark Teixeira‘s injury history.
Though he’s spent much of his career in the shadow of perhaps the greatest closer of all time, Mariano Rivera, Yankees right-hander David Robertson stepped onto the ninth-inning stage this season and excelled. The strong effort continued a four-year run of dominance that has positioned the former 17th-round pick quite well as he hits free agency for the first time.
In today’s game, strikeouts are king for pitchers, and Robertson excels in that department. Though he’s not overpowering — he’s averaged 92 mph on his heater in his career — Robertson racks up strikeouts at a prolific rate in part because he releases the ball closer to home plate than most pitchers, causing his fastball to appear quicker (a trait which SI.com’s Tom Verducci examined in a 2011 article). He averaged 13.4 strikeouts per nine innings this season and has punched out 12.0 per nine in his carer, including 12.3 per nine over the past four seasons.
Those four seasons are where Robertson truly began to establish himself as one of the game’s elite relievers. From 2011-14, Robertson owns a 2.20 ERA with a 354-to-95 K/BB ratio in 258 innings of work. His 46.7 percent ground-ball rate in that time has been slightly above-average, and he’s shaken the command problems that he showed early in his career. He walked nearly five batters per nine innings from 2008-11, but since that time he’s averaged just 2.8 BB/9.
A look at the rest of the closer market reveals quite a few older options, but Robertson will turn 30 next April, giving a signing team control of some prime-aged seasons. The next-youngest competition is Sergio Romo (32), who is coming off a down season in which he lost his hold on the ninth inning. In fact, a large number of Robertson’s competitors on the open market lost their jobs this year, but he can point to the fact that his grip remained iron-clad on the ninth inning this season.
Robertson has thrived in a big-market setting and in a hitter-friendly ballpark/division, so there’s little reason to worry about inserting him into any setting. While his time spent behind Rivera could be seen by some as a means of pointing out his lack of experience as a true closer, the argument can also be made that there’s no one better to have served as a tutor/mentor for Robertson throughout the first six seasons of his career.
Were Robertson on a different team, a qualifying offer of $15MM+ might not even be a consideration. Few clubs are comfortable paying relievers so extravagantly in this market, but the Yankees can certainly afford to. ESPN’s Buster Olney has written (subscription required) that it’s a virtual lock for Robertson to receive a QO, and as such, a signing team will have to forfeit its top unprotected pick in order to secure Robertson’s services. It’s nearly certain that no other reliever will come with this distinction.
Some may be surprised to learn that Robertson comes with somewhat of a platoon split — particularly because that split is of the reverse variety. While Robertson has completely flummoxed left-handed batters throughout his career and particularly in the past four seasons (.173/.254/.236), right-handed hitters have batted .230/.305/.373 against him dating back to 2011. Granted, that’s still not a particularly impressive batting line, but it’s closer to league-average production than one might think based on his otherwise elite stats.
Robertson dealt with what appears to have been a mild groin injury earlier this season. He required a trip to the disabled list — just the second of his career — though he only required the minimum 15-day stay and appeared healthy following that episode.
Laid back and reserved in nature, Robertson enjoys hunting and fishing in his free time. He also takes a great amount of pride in doing charity work for the community — a trait that is evident in looking at his High Socks for Hope charity. Robertson, an Alabama native, founded the nonprofit organization with his wife, Erin, after tornadoes ravaged his hometown Tuscaloosa area back in 2011. The charity seeks to benefit those whose lives have been impacted by tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Since founding the charity, Robertson has pledged to donate $100 for each strikeout he records, and he also pledged $200 for every save that he recorded in 2014. He’s been recognized with awards from Habitat for Humanity and has also been nominated for the Branch Rickey Award for community service in each of the past four seasons.
We’ve seen in the past that it typically behooves relievers to sign early in the offseason rather than to wait for the market to develop. The best hope for Robertson is for a team to make an aggressive push early in the offseason after deciding that he’s “their guy” and making a strong offer. This method worked for Joe Nathan and Joaquin Benoit with the Tigers, and we saw Jonathan Papelbon take a similar route when he signed in Philadelphia. On rare occasion, relievers that wait (i.e. Rafael Soriano) have been paid handsomely, but typically the market is strongest early on.
Not many teams are forking over major dollars to relief pitchers these days, but some clubs might be willing to make an exception for a pitcher that has been worth 8 fWAR and 9.3 rWAR dating back to 2011. The Yankees, who will likely make a QO, will of course be involved. However, they have a ready-made replacement candidate in the form of Dellin Betances and do have other areas that need attention.
The Dodgers can never be ruled out on big-name free agents, although Kenley Jansen is currently entrenched as their ninth-inning man. The Tigers yet again endured bullpen struggles, but after watching their big-money investment in Joe Nathan go south, would they decide that the best solution is to throw even more money at the ninth inning? The White Sox don’t have a firm solution in the ninth, and they’re set at a number of positions with affordable contracts, but GM Rick Hahn recently downplayed the idea of spending heavily on the ninth inning. The Angels figure to be set with Huston Street and a repeatedly stated desire to stay under baseball’s luxury tax threshold. The Rangers have deep pockets and a weakened bullpen as well. Another logical landing spot could be the Nationals, who are set at many positions around the diamond and already have a strong rotation.
Robertson has been nothing short of dominant, and in spite of the QO that’s likely to be attached to his name, I imagine that the goal for his camp will be to top Papelbon’s four-year, $50MM guarantee.
Given the fact that Robertson is the best player at his position in a free agent market that is thin on bats and features a number of talented but risky starters, a team may view Robertson as more of a sure thing than the rest of the market. A club looking to spend to improve but unwilling to take on the risk of an injury-prone starter or overpay for one of the few reliable bats may instead prefer to allocate its funds to shortening the game via a dynamic bullpen addition. It’s that line of thinking that leads me to believe it is indeed possible for Robertson to top Papelbon’s deal.
Aiming to set a new precedent is bold, but if there’s been a free agent reliever in recent history who can stake a legitimate claim to being able to do so, it’s Robertson. Based on his combination of age, strikeouts, command, ground-balls and success in a major market and hitter-friendly division, I’m predicting a four-year, $52MM contract for Robertson when all is said and done.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
In his latest Insider-only blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney runs down a list of pending free agents that are candidates to receive qualifying offers. Olney spoke with several executives from around the league and is of the mind that James Shields, Max Scherzer, Pablo Sandoval, Melky Cabrera, Russell Martin, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy, Victor Martinez, Ervin Santana, David Robertson and Hanley Ramirez will receive qualifying offers, which should fall between $15MM and $15.5MM.
Here are a few more notes from Olney’s piece…
- The Giants intend to give Sandoval a QO with the assumption that he will reject the offer and test the open market. San Francisco appears willing to offer him just three years, says Olney, and even going to four years might be too much of a stretch. Such a commitment seems much too light to land Sandoval, who, at 28 years old, will be one of the youngest free agents on the market.
- It looks like the Dodgers and Ramirez could be moving in separate directions, as rival evaluators anticipate the team will extend a qualifying offer with the expectation that Ramirez signs elsewhere.
- The value of Martin on a one-year deal, even north of $15MM, makes a QO for the Pirates “an easy call,” one rival GM said to Olney. Some may wonder whether or not Francisco Liriano is a QO candidate, but executives polled by Olney feel that his injury history and lack of innings present too much risk for the Bucs to extend such an offer. I’m inclined to agree; while Martin is a lock to turn down the QO, Liriano would have more hesitancy, and a $15MM salary would represent nearly 21 percent of the Pirates’ Opening Day payroll from 2014.
- Some evaluators think that Cruz will again find himself with a more limited market than he expects due to his age, 2013 PED suspension and the fact that his OBP and defense are less impressive than his power totals.
- Many rival executives feel there’s simply no way that the Tigers will let Martinez get away. Olney’s right in noting that a QO is “an easy call” for V-Mart, who currently sports a hefty .333/.401/.567 with a career-high 31 homers.
- Olney also feels that a QO for Robertson is an easy call. While he notes that teams don’t pay $15MM for closers anymore, one evaluator said to him: “…with any other team, we wouldn’t be talking about this. But it’s the Yankees, and they can do it.” On a somewhat related note, Olney adds that Koji Uehara‘s late-season swoon may be a blessing of sorts for the Red Sox, who can now approach him with an offer much lower than a QO would have been. I noted in yesterday’s MLBTR chat that I’d be more hesitant to give Robertson a QO, but the Yankees could certainly afford to run the risk.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Ervin Santana | Francisco Liriano | Hanley Ramirez | J.J. Hardy | James Shields | Kansas City Royals | Koji Uehara | Los Angeles Dodgers | Max Scherzer | Nelson Cruz | New York Yankees | Pablo Sandoval | Pittsburgh Pirates | Russell Martin | San Francisco Giants | Victor Martinez
Before the deadline, the Rockies seemingly took the Mets‘ bid to acquire Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez at least somewhat seriously, with GM Dan O’Dowd and other top evaluators scouting the Mets’ minor leaguers in person, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The Rockies were especially interested in Noah Syndergaard, but they also considered Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Matt den Dekker, Ruben Tejada and Matt Reynolds. Talks between the two teams didn’t get far, but they might lay the groundwork for future discussions. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Former Red Sox pitcher John Lackey is “happy where he is now,” guesses Sox GM Ben Cherington in an interview with Dennis & Callahan at WEEI. Cherington says that Lackey’s unusual contract, which allows his team to pay him the league minimum salary next year, enabled the Red Sox to get the value they did, picking up Allen Craig and Joe Kelly from the Cardinals. “[W]e wouldn’t have traded both [Jon] Lester and Lackey without getting a) major league talent back and b) at least one major league starter back,” says Cherington. “That was sort of the standard.”
- Closer David Robertson says he might have given the Yankees a discount last winter if they had signed him to an extension, George A. King of the New York Post reports. Now, he says, he’ll likely wait to become a free agent this offseason. “It would have to be a legit offer at this point of the year,” he says. Robertson has pitched brilliantly while replacing Mariano Rivera at closer, posting a 2.68 ERA in 43 2/3 innings this year, with 14.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. King notes that the Yankees will probably extend Robertson a qualifying offer this fall.
The Yankees and standout closer David Robertson haven’t had any discussions about a contract extension, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes in his daily blog (Insider subscription required/recommended). The free-agent-to-be could end up being hit with a qualifying offer this winter, Olney writes, and given the declining willingness teams have shown to pay big money for relievers, he could be inclined to take the deal. Doing so would give the Yankees an elite arm at a decent price without assuming any long-term risk.
More from Olney’s blog and the rest of the AL East…
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington hasn’t made a formal offer to Jon Lester since the four-year, $70MM pact the team offered in Spring Training. Cherington wouldn’t be doing his due diligence if he didn’t at least listen to offers for his ace, in order to gauge whether or not a club like the Dodgers would offer up a top prospect like Joc Pederson or Corey Seager, Olney continues.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes things a step further, writing that it is time for the Red Sox to trade Lester. MacPherson notes that the lack of a competitive offer shows a clear unwillingness to take that type of risk on the organization’s part. If the team wasn’t willing to go to $100MM or so in Spring Training, MacPherson asks, why then, would it vault into Zack Greinke territory by offering a market value extension or free agent contract? Collecting a draft pick and letting Lester walk is a “timid half-measure,” MacPherson concludes.
- The Blue Jays have shown interest in Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. However, while the Jays have scouted Barnes extensively, they’ve yet to put together an offer.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports (via Twitter) that Blue Jays top prospect Dalton Pompey has changed representation and is now a client of CAA Sports. The toolsy center fielder hit his way onto Baseball America’s midseason Top 50 prospect list, ranking 47th overall.
- While the Yankees are focused on adding pitcher, John Harper of the New York Daily News opines that the team should turn its focus to Marlon Byrd. Injuries to Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira have left Brett Gardner looking like the most dangerous hitter in the lineup, Harper writes, and Byrd has more homers than the entire outfield of Ichiro Suzuki, Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury combined. While there’s been no indication that the Yanks are interested, one executive tells Harper that GM Brian Cashman has gotten very good at keeping acquisitions under wraps.
It was on this day in 1934 that Lou Gehrig made his only career appearance at shortstop, though the Yankees legend never actually took the field at the position. Gehrig was battling lumbago when the Yankees traveled to Detroit to face the Tigers, yet the “Iron Horse” was in the doubly-unusual lineup spot of both playing short and hitting leadoff. After Gehrig singled to begin the game, he was removed for pinch-runner Red Rolfe, who played short the rest of the way. This game was one of a few unofficial rest days Gehrig occasionally received while continuing his consecutive game streak into the 1939 season.
Here’s some news from around the AL East…
- The Orioles are having “active discussions with a number of teams” about possible trades, O’s executive VP Dan Duquette told MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski, though the talks have “not really” gotten very serious. Duquette implied that teams are asking for Baltimore’s top prospects in return and he didn’t outright deny the possibility of dealing one of those minor leaguers. “Young talent is going to be the lifeblood of our organization, but at the same time we want to advance the organization in the postseason, so that is kind of what you’re looking at,” Duquette said. “We hope our top prospects are going to help us for a long time.”
- David Robertson says there have “been zero talks” between his representatives and the Yankees about a contract extension, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports. “When the offseason comes, it comes and we’ll hear what other teams and everybody else wants to say,” Robertson noted, though he said he would like to remain with the Yankees. The closer will become a free agent this winter and he’s set himself up for a nice contract after an impressive first half as Mariano Rivera‘s replacement. The Yankees generally don’t discuss extensions before a player’s contract is up, so the lack of talks shouldn’t necessarily indicate any disinterest in retaining Robertson, though Dellin Betances could be waiting in the wings as a future closer.
- For the second straight year, Joe Girardi is leading an injury-depleted Yankees team to a record that outperforms a negative run differential, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. While questions are being raised about several other aspects of the Yankees organization in the face of another postseason absence, Davidoff notes that “Girardi keeps enhancing his status, both within the organization and among other teams.”
- The names of Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey have already been frequently mentioned in Blue Jays trade rumors, and Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi profiles the two prospects who are both big parts of the Jays’ future, whether it be in a Toronto uniform or as bait to obtain upgrades before the deadline.
- Extending Gardner was a wise move for the Yankees, argues Jack Curry of the YES Network. The club never intended to deal him unless it was "overwhelmed," says Curry. "He really has developed into a real solid, every day player," said GM Brian Cashman. "He's tough and he's a gamer. I think he's part of the solution here."
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News opines that the deal was a win-win. "I think Brett would be valuable to any team," said Cashman. "He's got that type of dynamic speed and defense, and the ability to get on base that would fit with any franchise." From his perspective, Gardner said that signing the deal was "probably the biggest decision I've ever had to make in my life." He continued: "I've put a lot of thought into it, but at the end of the day, that's a lot of money, and where I come from, at that money, or twice that much money, I'm not going to change the way I live."
- Bailey is not expected even to begin throwing until July, at the earliest, reports Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. "The bottom line is focus on August or September for him to help the major league club, if at all," said Cashman. But the Yankees were moved to make the deal given Bailey's upside, even if they remain less than certain that it will reap any dividends. "When he is healthy, he is an exceptional reliever," Cashman explained. "He's coming off shoulder surgery so we're taking a flier, a low risk. If we can get a reward out of it, great. If not, it's one of those nothing ventured, nothing gained. It's his shoulder — more likely than not it's an uphill battle, but we'll see."
- Meanwhile, New York may be open to discussing an extension with new closer David Robertson but has yet to engage him in talks, reports Brendan Kuty of the Star-Ledger. Cashman was noncommital when asked about a new deal for Robertson, who is set to reach free agency after this season: "Would we be opposed to it? We'll see." The dominant setup man will earn $5.215MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility. He will hit the market at age 30, and with another strong season could be in line for a sizeable new contract.
- The Yankees will not make an offer to shortstop Aledmys Diaz or pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne, reports George A. King III of the New York Post (hat tip to River Ave. Blues). The pair of Cuban free agents recently auditioned for New York, with the former a particularly intriguing possible target given the Yanks' long-term needs up the middle.
The Yankees dominated the headlines in baseball today with their signing of Masahiro Tanaka. Earlier today on MLBTR, we looked at some of the reaction and fallout to the big move, while MLBTR's Zach Links took part in a conference call with Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Here's some more from around the AL East…
- For now, Mike Carp's future with the Red Sox isn't likely to be impacted by the club's signing of Grady Sizemore, an industry source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Carp received a lot of trade interest earlier this winter and now another left-handed outfield bat has joined the team, Carp could be the odd man out. I'd guess that Boston wouldn't do anything with Carp, however, until they get a long look at the injury-plagued Sizemore during Spring Training.
- The Blue Jays' self-imposed five-year limit on free agent contracts is hurting their ability to upgrade the roster, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi opines. The Jays' inability to develop young talent like the Rays or spend like the Yankees (or Red Sox) leaves them somewhat hamstrung in the tough AL East.
- While the Yankees' big free agent splurge was necessary to improve the team, Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks the club needs to focus on more cost-effective strategies. "It is a horrible business plan, a caveman way to build a roster (no art, all financial bludgeoning). It is a tactic that leaves the Yankees susceptible to this current crew wilting and forcing a rinse, repeat, spend a half a billion in a few more years to cover up more malfeasance in drafting, international signings and development," Sherman writes. Sherman further explores this idea in a separate piece, with quotes from co-owner Hal Steinbrenner.
- David Robertson will be the Yankees' closer in 2014, Steinbrenner told Sherman and Dan Martin of the New York Post. Cashman wasn't quite as firm during a media conference, saying that Robertson is "obviously…the odds-on favorite" but not ruling out any further bullpen additions.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, the Yankees designated southpaw David Huff for assignment, the Red Sox signed Grady Sizemore and designated Brayan Villarreal for assignment, Zach Links spoke with Sizemore during a conference call, the Orioles may have hit a snag in their agreement with Tyler Colvin and the Rays officially announced a seven-player deal with the Padres. We also collected more news from Baltimore and Tampa Bay in the latest editions of Orioles Notes and Rays Notes.
Robertson, a client of Damon Lapa and Scott Leventhal's All Bases Covered agency, is currently in line to replace the legendary Mariano Rivera as the Yankees' closer. Doing so would be of particular benefit to he and his agents, as it would boost his stock heading into free agency next offseason. Though he's struggled in a small sample when used as a closer, Robertson has been one of the game's premier setup men over the past three seasons and certainly has the talent to succeed in a ninth-inning role.
11:06am: The Yankees have avoided arbitration with Brett Gardner by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.6MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Gardner is repped by Pro Star Management, Inc. Agent Joe Bick looks to have done quite well for Gardner, as MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected him to earn $4MM.
The 30-year-old Gardner enjoyed another solid season at the plate in 2013, batting .273/.344/.416 with eight homers, 33 doubles, a league-leading 10 triples and 24 stolen bases. Gardner tallied a career-high 609 plate appearances despite being sidelined for two-and-a-half weeks with an oblique strain, and he played solid defense in center field as well (particularly according to Defensive Runs Saved, which rated him at +6).
This is Gardner's final season of team control before he's eligible for free agency. In 2014, he'll team up with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran to comprise the Yankees' primary outfield. The Yanks have ducked arbitration with Gardner, Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Francisco Cervelli, but they still have a potential hearing to avoid with Ivan Nova.