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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: David Robertson

A successful 2022 campaign and a deep postseason run showed D-Rob is back to form, and a potential return home should be on the table.

2022 World Series Game 5: Houston Astros v. Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Another offseason, another post by me advocating for the Yankees to reunite with David Robertson. Will I ever stop writing this post? Only if the Yankees finally bring him back. They refuse to do that, so the people must continue to hear my pleas and suggestion of a 30-year/$30 million per year contract, which only seems fair.

As I’ve mentioned previously, what the 2022 season held for David Robertson was unknown. After a lost two-year stretch with the Phillies, Robertson rehabbed his way to a spot on the 2021 U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo, which helped him land another MLB opportunity with the Rays (yuck), and that brief 12-inning stint can only be described as adequate. He entered this past season looking for an opportunity to prove he still had something left, and signed a one-year deal with the Cubs.

His first half with the Cubs showed that he was back to being the D-Rob of old. The 37-year-old was not the flashiest reliever in the pen, but he demonstrated consistency and reliability. Despite my pleading, the Yankees traded for the wrong* Cubs reliever, and Robertson was shipped to the Phillies, where he helped them make their first World Series appearance since 2009 (back when he was a youngster on the other side).

*Yes, Scott Effross offers more to New York long term, but, well, best of luck to him in his Tommy John surgery rehab.

Split between the Cubs and Phillies, Robertson sported a 2.40 ERA (172 ERA+) across 58 games with a 11.45 K/9 and a 4.95 BB/9. During the Phillies’ deep postseason run, Robertson was crucial to manager Rob Thomson in bridging the gap to Seranthony Dominguez and company, but he was also capable of coming in for the save if needed (of course in classic Houdini fashion).

In eight appearances during the 2022 postseason, Robertson allowed only one run, back in the NLCS against the Padres. Half of his playoff games came on the biggest stage while squaring off with the Astros in the World Series, where he did his part in holding that formidable lineup in check.

Robertson’s 2022 season proved that he’s healthy and recovered from his injury, and even nearing age-38, he’s ready and able to contribute to an MLB bullpen. The question for the Yankees, though, is how they should go ahead and get their bullpen ready for 2023.

The Yankees’ bullpen is in pretty solid shape as it is. Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Lou Trivino, Ron Marinaccio, plus Michael King, who is already throwing again and expects to be ready for spring training, make up an extremely good foundation for a very good bullpen. The foundation looks to be very solid, but as Malachi noted last week, some external help probably wouldn’t hurt.

Although the Yankees have been quite capable of churning out low-cost relievers, they’ve also been burned in the past by spending way too much in their bullpen. This winter, the Yankees finally have that big money coming off the books from the bullpen with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, and Chad Green all hitting free agency. They’ll be free from the roster construction nightmare they’ve previously put themselves in. Spending big money on the bullpen is fine if you’re also spending big money in other places, but spending big money there and limiting the rest of the roster is irresponsible.

There was a slight fear with all that money off the books, the Yankees would repeat their past mistakes there. Thankfully, with Edwin Diaz off the market and a look at the other free agent relievers that are available, history doesn’t look doomed to repeat itself this time.

David Robertson probably brings in the best mix of experience, reliability, and cost. This year, he clearly showed that he still has something left in the tank. Still, he’ll be 38 in April, and it’s likely no one is going to commit big dollars or years to a reliever that age. He gives the Yankees one of their best opportunities to further solidify their bullpen without a long or expensive commitment.

Or they could just finally put an end to this recurring series and give him the 30-year/$30 million per year contract I’ve been advocating. Either way is fine with me, just as long as my sweet prince comes home.