David Robertson

Robertson deal is shrewd as Phillies look to bridge gap to Braves

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Right-handed reliever David Robertson has agreed to join the Philadelphia Phillies on a three-year deal, according to Mark Feinsand.

Robertson will earn $10 million and $11 million in 2019 and 2020 respectively with a $12 million team option for 2021. There is a $2 million buyout on the option.

Robertson was drafted by the Yankees in 2006 and pitched in seven seasons for the New York franchise before joining the Chicago White Sox as a free agent in late 2014. He played two and a half seasons in the Windy City before he was traded back to Yankee Stadium in 2017.

Robertson was one of the best free agents available this offseason and joins an already deep Phillies bullpen alongside Juan Nicasio, Pat Neshek and Seranthony Dominguez.

The former White Sox pitcher is as durable as any reliever in the sport, having pitched in over 60 games every season since 2009. He was not at his very best in 2018, but a 2.97 FIP and WHIP marginally over 1.00 are hardly disastrous.


Baseball Reference projects Robertson to decline further in 2019, though that will largely be down to his age. He turns 34 in April, but his flawless injury record makes his age less of a concern and we have not seen a notable drop off in his stuff yet – Robertson struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings in 69.2 innings last season.

The Phillies are yet to bolster their rotation after missing out on J.A. Happ and Patrick Corbin this offseason. Deepening the bullpen was always a priority, and it is one way of dealing with uncertainty from their starters. Gabe Kapler has a bullpen as deep as any in the National League, which makes it easier to pull starters early, as he often did last season.

Philadelphia will have plenty more to do this offseason, notably chasing Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Robertson is a shrewd addition, though, and could get the relief pitcher market moving.

Zach Britton is unlikely to head to Philadelphia now, and may well re-sign with the Yankees. Craig Kimbrel was always a longshot for the Phillies, but he will likely get more attention from contending teams now Robertson is off the market.

For all the rumours, it had been a quiet few weeks for the Phillies since they traded for Jean Segura and signed Andrew McCutchen. Robertson’s arrival has awoken a fan base that must have been growing tired of murmurings rather than unveilings.


This has to be the start of several more moves for the 2008 World Series champions. They have ground to make up on the Braves, the Mets have been very active this offseason, and the Nationals will be competitive. It doesn’t have to be spending silly money – this Robertson deal proves that – but the Phillies need to improve their roster if they are to be real contenders in their division.

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