The Cubs announced the signing of veteran reliever David Robertson to a one-year, Major League contract. Codi Heuer (who recently underwent Tommy John surgery) was placed on Chicago’s 60-day injured list to open up roster space. Robertson will earn $3.5MM in guaranteed money, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets, and the right-hander can earn up to $1.5MM more in incentives. 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reported earlier today that Robertson and the Cubs were in talks about a possible deal.
Robertson comes to Chicago after tossing 12 innings with the Rays last season, plus four more frames of work in the playoffs. It marked the right-hander’s first big league action since he threw 6 2/3 innings with the Phillies in 2019 before being sidelined by Tommy John surgery.
Prior to that surgery, Robertson had been essentially the picture of durability over his 11 previous seasons as a workhorse in the Yankees and White Sox bullpens. Robertson combined that reliability with great results, as he posted a 2.93 ERA and 32.4% strikeout rate in 657 innings over those 11 seasons, acting as both a quality closer and a set-up man.
This track record led to a two-year, $23MM free agent deal with the Phillies, though Robertson barely pitched for the team due to his TJ surgery and recovery. Robertson held multiple showcases for teams last winter but didn’t land a new contract, and instead pitched for the silver medal-winning Team USA at this past summer’s Olympics Games in Tokyo. Robertson finally caught on with the Rays, and has now earned another guaranteed contract with the Cubs.
After essentially three lost seasons, it is hard to know what to expect from Robertson as he enters his age-37 campaign. A return to his pre-2019 form is perhaps optimistic, and yet there is also plenty of opportunity for Robertson to once again work as a closer for a Chicago-based team. Robertson certainly has the most closing experience of anyone in the Cubs bullpen, and is one of only a few veterans overall (besides the recently-signed Chris Martin and minor league addition Jesse Chavez) amidst a young relief corps.
Some more signings could certainly be in the offing for a Cubs team that has been aggressive this winter, though Seiya Suzuki’s five-year deal represents the club’s only true long-term commitment (Marcus Stroman can opt out of his three-year contract after the 2023 season). The seeming aversion to longer-term contracts may mean that the Cubs won’t splurge on any big deal for a relief pitcher, thus enhancing Robertson’s chances of winning the closer job during Spring Training.