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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: David Robertson

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With the bullpen facing more question marks than it has in recent years, a reunion might benefit both parties.

MLB: AL Wildcard-Minnesota Twins at New York Yankees
How I feel every time the Yankees let him walk in free agency
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

There have been a quite a few times in my Yankees fandom that I’ve been extremely sad by the team choosing not to bring back a notable player. Robinson Canó immediately comes to mind as one of the moves that stung the most. There has only been one case where it’s happened with the same player twice: David Robertson. I enthusiastically and unapologetically love David Robertson. He’s by far my favorite Yankees player ever.

There’s no real reason for this, but I fell in love with him during the 2009 World Series run and I’ve never looked back. Anyone who follows baseball closely knows relievers are volatile by nature. They can have short runs of incredible success, but there are few who do it well for a consistently long time. Robertson is by no stretch of the imagination Mariano Rivera in terms of greatness, but few relievers would be on the short list in compiling decade-long runs of success. D-Rob is one of them.

From 2009-18, Robertson was one of the steadiest arms one could find in an MLB bullpen, and thankfully, he spent a majority of that time in Yankees pinstripes. The Yankees once let him walk in free agency to the White Sox, but ended up bringing him back two and a half years later in a deal with Tommy Kahnle and Todd Frazier. When he came back to the team, he immediately fit in and helped shore up the bullpen as a key contributor to the unexpected ALCS run in 2017. If it wasn’t for his performance in that year’s Wild Card game, the team probably doesn’t get there. Don’t remember it? You should.

Didi Gregorius breathing life into the team helped him become the hero, but Robertson steadying the ship for 3 13 innings and almost sacrificing Gary Sánchez’s future children for the greater good got the team through that game and onto the next opponent. Unfortunately, after his second tenure was up, the Yankees again let him walk, this time to join the Philadelphia Phillies ... and that’s when all hell broke loose.

This is obviously not a 100 percent true statement, but I genuinely believe him needing Tommy John surgery was a direct result of him not returning to the Bronx. Since signing a two-year deal with the Phillies, Robertson pitched in just seven games before missing the rest of 2019 and all of 2020. Now he’s a question mark, and that’s directly* Brian Cashman’s fault.

*Don’t question this logic, it’s definitely his fault.

Of course, Robertson will be 36 in April 2021, and now after missing almost two seasons, no one knows for sure if he’ll be able to return to his former level of success. But in an area that needs help, I’d definitely be willing to gamble with the Yankees’ money to see if he can put it back together and baffle hitters with his curve once again. With his age and health a question mark, he shouldn’t be an expensive target either, and the potential reward could outweigh the risk. It’s an almost ideal scenario for a make-good contract.

As the Yankees’ 2020 playoff run showed, the team’s bullpen is no longer a super one. Outside of Zack Britton and Chad Green, there wasn’t a reliever on the team who could be trusted. (Yes, that includes Aroldis Chapman. I do not trust that man in any game situation). Unfortunately, they can’t pitch every relief inning of every game. Given his long history of success, the Yankees should be eager at the opportunity to take a chance on Robertson and help out the bullpen so the likes of Luis Cessa don’t have to pitch pivotal frames in October. More unlikely events have occurred on a baseball field than good relievers returning from Tommy John surgery and becoming decent big leaguers again. Middle relief in the Yankees’ bullpen would be an excellent spot for Robertson to regain his form, right back where it all began.

Believe it or not (you should believe it), I’ve pretty much written this exact argument before and whenever I’m given the opportunity, I will always write this argument. Unless they finally do what I’ve said before and sign him to a 30-year, $30 million/year deal and I don’t have to worry about losing my favorite player again. Plus, he’s always ready to thrown down for the team and who doesn’t want a player like that?