Free agent closer David Robertson is looking to at least match, and likely top, a contract in the range of four years and $50MM, ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand reports. This is, of course, so-called “Papelbon money,” — the guaranteed portion of the deal that Jonathan Papelbon received from the Phillies in November 2011 and the richest contract ever given to a reliever.
It’s no surprise that Robertson is aiming high given that he’s the top closer on the market. MLBTR’s Steve Adams, in fact, predicted that Robertson would surpass Papelbon by finding a four-year, $52MM deal this winter. The issue with Papelbon’s still-controversial contract is that $50MM is seen by some critics as too much to guarantee to a reliever, no matter how well he might perform on the field — Papelbon has a 2.45 ERA and 106 saves in his three years with the Phillies.
Robertson, however, has fewer question marks about his future performance than Papelbon did three offseasons ago and the former Yankee is already drawing a lot of interest. If the bidding for Robertson does indeed get over the $50MM mark, however, Marchand believes the Yankees will pass on re-signing him.
Then forget it, even Papelbon isnt worth “Papelbon money”
It depends how a team values relievers. Papelbon isn’t worth it, but someone gave it to him, and he is performing how you would expect.
most closers and relievers aren’t. With Mo Rivera and Kimbrel being the exceptions.
Greg Holland deserves Kimbrel and Rivera money too, but he won’t get it with the Royals.
my bad for excluding Holland.
He might get it, but it probably won’t be from the Yankees, who, in effect, would be paying him Papelbon money and the pick they would get–and for all that, they would block Betances. Fine pitcher, I just don’t know if he’s really so irreplaceable.
Annnnd gooodbye David.
Pass. I’m sure he’ll get it but I hope its not from the Cubs.
Why? If they’re putting themselves in a position to compete over the next 3-5 years why wouldn’t they want one of the top MLB relievers in their bullpen?
Its a ridiculous overpay for one. He has 47 career saves for another reason. Reliever’s break down and become ineffective all the time. Its the worst way to use resources. This is not the guy who will put the Cubs over the top. Waste of money. Theo didn’t give Papelbon, Papelbon money so I hope he walks away from this one.
Did you just use his career save total to defend the need to not sign him?
Robertson is about as elite as they come
It signifies a lack of experience in said role, so yes. And a guy who blows more than 10% of his save opportunities is not elite. Good, not elite and definitely not Papelbon money.
So he has a 90% success rate? In other words, .9% better than Mariano Rivera?
How do you get 90% from “more than 10 percent” guy has one season as a closer. He’s not elite and not worth Papelbon money.
I used an advanced formula where I subtracted your 10% from 100%. Honestly, I didn’t see your “more than”. Still 89.9% is still a better rate than Mo. Obviously he’s no Mo, but I’d take him over Papelbon any day. To say he’s not one of the top relievers in the game is just silly. He has been for years now.
Welcome too the Mets David……
Not for $50+ million but I actually do like him a lot for the Mets. Mejia would become expendable and is a far more appealing trade chip than guys like Gee/Niese. Or maybe they keep Mejia, in which case their bullpen and rotation are absolutely top notch.
Why trade Mejia? Yes he has an injury history, but he can handle the pressure and has a fire that most guys don’t have when they play.
I like Mejia but at the same time he is an enticing trade chip. He’s solid but not irreplaceable and if you were to bring in another bullpen arm his departure would not disrupt what we have going on too much. Adding a closer gives the Mets more flexibility in their pursuit of a top tier SS.
What team is desperate enough for a closer to spend 4/50? The Dodgers already have plenty of overpaid closers, the Yankees aren’t interested, Detroit already has Nathan to worry about, Washington learned from Soriano, Philadelphia already has Papelbon, Red Sox have Koji and the Angels have Street.
My only guess would be the Cubs to build up their bullpen even more. Though their focus really should be SP.
I wouldn’t rule out the Red Sox actually because Koji faded and they have him for 2 more years. He may very well tank all year and next year after what happened in the 2nd half of this year.
I have a really hard time seeing the Cubs going 4/50 on Robertson especially after the season Rondon put up.
Also I really dont think the Red Sox signed Koji for 2 more years just to spend even more money on another closer. They will at least wait to see him pitch in 2015 before looking for a new closer.
Yankees did it with Rafael Soriano despite having Robertson/Rivera in the 8th/9th. Don’t rule it out. And Rondon has only pitched 1 year in the bigs (correction, 2 years, but 1 good year).
I’m not comparing the 2, but I’m sure you remember Carlos Marmol
Red Sox also have Mujica and Tazawa along with 29814346 prospects. They will more than likely buy a FA reliever or two, but not one for $50MM+.
I agree. Internal options unless two or three guys go down with injuries.
Hey I’m not saying they Should, just saying don’t rule it out.
I would think Cubs try to be contenders before they spend big money on a closer.
I could see the Dodgers getting in on this. Fortunately, Wilson and League’s deals expire after this year. Including a pro-rated portion of his signing bonus, League is owed $9.5 million this year and Wilson another $9.5 million. I could see slightly backloading a four-year deal for Robertson or perhaps Andrew Miller.
I don’t know how the Dodgers would work. That would become a lot of money for a setup guy, a guy who may not even want to sign to be a setup guy. They won’t remove Jansen from closing.
Like others have said I’m not sure who’s going to pay him $50M. The Tigers and Yankees seem like the most likely landing spot and I don’t see either paying that much.
Ha lol good luck
David’s a great closer, easily top 5 year in and year out, but he’s not worth that amount of money, especially considering you’d also be losing a draft pick. He might find his market very dry indeed if he’s demanding that much.
Considering that he has only “closed” for one year it’s pretty hard to call in him a perpetual top 5 guy.
Okay, so he’s a top-5 reliever year in and year out who has proven he can close. Semantics.
Dude’s got three seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA, four with a sub-1.2 WHIP (only 2 with a sub-1.1 though) and has a pretty poor HR/FB ratio (15.6% this year, 10.6% last year) which is tough as his GB% has been below 50% for all but one year of his career. He’s got a very nice K/9, though, and he’s been much better at limiting his BBs since 2011.
2011 and 2013 you could probably make the “top-5 reliever” case, 2012 and 2014 is tougher. 2010 and before? No.
It’s more the fact that he’s been consistently really, really good year after year for a long time, now.
He’s been consistently really good for 4 years. He was pretty average in 2010, had another good year in 2009.
However, that doesn’t put him in “top-5, year-in, year-out.” Even if it does make him desirable.
3 year/36m maybe 4 year/44m
Wouldn’t shock me if someone gave him that but usually those kinds of deals for relievers don’t work out.
Someone desperate will pay him. I’m looking at you, Mr. Dombrowski.
Not really. He already has $20MM+ in his bullpen for 2015. Plus he has until the trading deadline to figure it out.
Until proven otherwise, Tigers can contend regardless of their bullpen… their problem is bullpen implosions DURING the post season.
Tigers had groomed Smyly to be the secret weapon out of the playoff bullpen… and Sanchez did fill that role nicely, before he was inexplicably yanked for Chamberlain. No reason that a guy like Lobstein can’t fill that role in 2015.
Nathan is likely done. Soria will take over at full health and 100MPH Rondon will be the 8th inning guy. That is the hope anyway.
Joe McMahon 2
It’s not that insane. I wouldn’t give him 4/50, but I’d probably give him 4/40-44, which isn’t a ton less. Especially if no one offers 4/50.
So I guess this means Chapman will be worth $75 million and Kimbrel $100 million when their turns come.
True, but Kimbrel just signed an extension, so he’ll have to avoid the fate of his teammates and hope his elbow holds up until 2019 to get that sort of deal.
This proving it only takes one club to make a huge contractual mistake, before it sets the market. Ironically Papelbon and Robertson had similar values last season. Neither was the best relief pitcher in baseball. Heck Robertson wasn’t even the best reliever on his team. He’ll get it from someone. Miller should probably land a similar deal.
It’s coming down too cubs,white sox,mets,rangers or tigers….
I wouldnt be surprised if the Angels are in.
Angels? Huston Street is just as good and comes in at half the price. Not seeing a fit there given their budget constraints and other needs.
Can’t see the Rangers doing it. Our pressing needs are the rotation and possibly a RF. We have plenty of young arms for the pen. Roman Mendez should be the name to watch for closer next year. He should give Feliz a run.
Vandals Took The Handles
Hahn said the other day that he’s looking for at least a few relievers and would not throw a lot of money at just one guy.
Well, I be like ‘Moonlight Graham.’
I would be happy just to take the field and if I did it would be preferably 1st base.
A lot of good relief options on the market. I’m thinking his market will be lower than he expects.
Would a team prefer Miller at 4/$36MM without a draft pick loss… or Robertson at 4/$52 AND a draft pick loss. Is Robertson that much better?
Miller’s had one really great year (this year), and owns a career ERA 4.19 1.56 WHIP compared to DRobs 2.81 and 1.215 WHIP who’s been pretty constant outside his rook year (08) and one of the better late inning-guys for the last 4 years. He may be worth it if you one closer away from competing. Maybe. (it’s a stupid amount of money)
He may have to settle for a 4yr 40mil….with an option…….
i'm me ..
i’d call that “stupid money”
Kansas City has 3 closers: Holland, Davis and Herrerra. Come and get em! Will take a lot but you won’t have to pay ‘stupid money’.
But you’d have to pay “stupid prospects”.
You’re thinking of the old Royals. We want major leaguers now: A power hitting RF or SP.
For a reliever?
Absolutely, for one of the two best closers in baseball at a cheaper salary. Or, you can spend $10 for David Robertson.
Holland+ might get you one of those. The other two? Not so much.
So, the 7th or 8th in AL MVP voting won’t pull a mid rotation SP or power hitting RF? I think you’re wrong. There’s strong demand for a lock down closer as evidenced by the salaries that are being paid. The best closer in baseball should bring a good haul. Plus, I’d give up Holland over the other two. Davis was unhittable this year and Herrera throws 100 consistently and looked almost as dominant. Neither gave up a HR for almost 2/3 of the year. Plus, Holland was limited a bit by fatigue at the end of the year.
If I were a GM, I would just hand Robertson a dollar with Papelbon’s face over Photoshopped over Washington’s and say “now sign with my team.”
Biggest game he ever saved/tried to save? Jeter’s last? How did that go…..?
Paps was lights out in the playoffs. Up til the 2009 ALDS, he had the best playoff career start ever. 22IP 0ER 21K 6BB 8H. That is how he got 50M.
oh come on. That was not the biggest game he ever tried to save. Yankees were out of it.
Name one bigger?
August 7th against the Tigers. Saving Greene’s 1-0 gem.
47,013 people in attendance that day and hardly anyone watched it in comparison to Jeter’s record setting home game. Highest rated YES network game ever.
Do you think David Robertson was counting people in the stands? It was a bigger game. It actually meant something to the team’s contention. The score was 1-0 which meant he could not give up anything.
Papelbon has had worse blow ups in the playoffs.
Rivera’s biggest game ever had to have been the 2001 WS Game 7. He blew that.
Babe Ruth’s biggest Moment ever had to be when he was caught stealing to end the 1926 World Series Game 7
Walter Johnson’s biggest game ever was probably the WS 1 year later, 1927, when he blew a 3 run lead to lose Game 7.
Am I comparing Robertson to these players? No, but my point is, don’t judge a guy based on 1 game, whether it’s one of their biggest games ever or just your average game during the regular season
What about the pressure situations he came into as a setup man? Why shouldn’t pressure holds count just the same as a save?
Like his multiple extra inning tie game wins in the playoffs. That is way more pressure than Jeter’s last home game.
Remember how many times he’d come into a game with the bases loaded in the 7th or 8th and a save situation, and get out of it. There’s a reason his nickname is “Houdini.”
I would pay him. I don’t want to push Betances into a closer role, just yet. I know its a lot of money, but I would definitely like the Yankees to make a competitive offer. I like the bullpen with that bridge from Betances to Robertson a lot.
4 years $50M+ is a long and expensive bridge. There are other viable options who will theoretically cost less, take less years, and produce similarly.
Perhaps. But, there is also a lot of MLB history of closers not being able to perform, and a bridge that collapses is the more expensive one no matter how little you paid for it.
I get your point and I like the “look” of that scenario as well. It just seems like excessive money on what’s essentially your “future setup man”.
In their four years prior to free agency:
Player – ERA- FIP- SIERA fWAR RA9-WAR
Papel – 62 – 57 – 2.46 – 9.5 – 7.6
Rober – 54 – 59 – 2.20 – 7.6 – 9.3
Robertson is also a year younger than Papelbon was when he hit the market.
So he has a pretty good argument, so long as you ignore the fact that Papelbon’s contract was immediately and permanently regarded as a terrible overpay.
Edited to add: there’s also a large discrepancy in their postseason results. Robertson has just 17 innings of 3.7 ERA work, while Papelbon boasted 27 innings of a sterling 1.00 ERA.
If you ask me, there’s nothing predictive about those numbers. But usually if you ask the market, those results to translate to differences in perceived value.
Papelbon also had 6 years of closing experience to Robertson’s 1.
True, though I think to the extent any team still has the “but can he cloooose?!” bugaboo concerning elite relievers, it only takes one year for them to be satisfied that he can.
Robertson looking for contract “team will regret 5 minutes after signing”
We can be saying that about several others too.
Pretty sure we can say that about literally every player in the league.
At this point for the Yankees, signing Andrew Miller instead would be a good move. Much cheaper than Robertson and you can either use Miller or Betances as the closer. They’re both versatile for the set-up and closer roles.
Miller is going to get a lot of money for what has been a relatively short span of bullpen success in his career. If the Yankees are hesitant to pay Robertson, then I doubt they spend money on Miller.
It would entirely depend on what Miller’s asking price range is. If it’s near what Robertson wants, then yes, the Yankees will definitely skip over Miller. However, if it’s cheaper, and less years, say even two, I don’t know that they’d pass that chance. If Robertson does sign with another team, the Yankees will want to make sure that their late inning guys are dependable, which is why I could see them pursuing Miller should it come to that.
What were people expecting him to ask for? His fair market rate? This is how negotiations work.
Robby L. Sklarz
Did signing Papelbon cost the Phillies a draft pick? I can’t remember if that was in play yet but it must be taken into consideration in Robertson’s case.
Yes they did. I think that was back when they had the Type A/Type B FA
It did. It was a very odd situation in which the rules changed midstream. If the Phillies had waited a few more days, they wouldn’t have lost the pick. If you recall, that was also the time when they may or may not have made a 4/44 offer to Madson, then pulled it to sign Papelbon
I’m sure other GMs love Ruben Amaro for setting the top free agent closer market so absurdly high. Great job as always, Ruben!
Considering other teams are now probably going to end up paying the same amount, I fail to see how this is a ding on him.
Mind you, the contract was too high (or at least too long), and jumping the gun by a couple of days cost them a draft pick… But it’s not like Papelbon has been terrible. If the team had needed an elite closer the last 3 years, he’d have been it.
I never said Papelbon was terrible. I think the contract is too huge for ~60 innings of work and too risky for 5 years, even though it’s panned out so far.
It is a ding on Amaro because he’s responsible for what’s now being referred to as “Papelbon money.” He set that bar so ridiculously high that now elite closers can make the case that they’re worth that type of money. If Amaro didn’t offer that contract to Papelbon, it’s hard to imagine anyone else would have.
Except if no other team is willing to pay it, then it’d be an aberration. Like ARod’s contracts (at least prior to the Cabrera extension this year), for instance.
If other teams are willing to pay that much, then it’s a moot point, because the market would have reached the same point pretty soon, regardless.
Unfortunately for him, my Phillies already have a closer so he won’t be getting that money.
Even if we didn’t, they wouldn’t be looking to drop $13MM/year on a closer now. It almost made sense back when we had the best starting rotation in recent history and a nucleus of position players that were good enough (barring injury) to win most games.
Now though? Nah.