On their way to a 65-30 start, not much has gone wrong for the Yankees. In fact, almost everything has gone right. With the team off to such a dominating start, it’s difficult to find glaring areas of “need,” but that’s not to say the team couldn’t use some help. An outfielder to help fill the Joey Gallo-shaped hole in the lineup and a Luis Castillo-type starter come to mind as ways to really bring emphasize that the Yankees are going “all-in” this year.
It’s always the position players and starters that get the majority of the attention, but there are always a few impact trades in the bullpen that end up going a long way, even if it’s fared well in 2022. Collectively, Yankees relievers are pitching to a 2.90 ERA and are a large part of why the Bombers have the record they currently hold.
Any talk of the Yankees bullpen starts with Clay Holmes and Michael King. They are the jewels of the bullpen and the true anchors. Although the group behind them has been solid for the most part, it’s really just those two that stand out as elite relievers, and the Yankees just lost King for the year with a devastating elbow fracture.
While both Aroldis Chapman and Jonathan Loáisiga have returned after missing time with injuries, it’s still to be determined which version of each them the Yankees are getting. Now that King is out for the season, the atmosphere is even more uncertain, so going out and getting an extra arm may be wise. It’s never a bad idea anyway, even if the group as a whole is performing quite well.
2022 Stats: 33 games, 37.1 IP, 1.93 ERA, 3.27 FIP, 31.8 K%, 11.9 BB%, 0.6 fWAR
2022 Contract Status: Earning $3.5 million on a one-year contract, free agent after the season.
Forgive me if this seems like déjà vu. Readers of this site may remember me advocating for David Robertson once or twice before, maybe even a third or fourth time. Maybe my posts on Pinstripe Alley wouldn’t seem so repetitive if the Yankees had just given Robertson the 30-year/$30 million per year contract I previously suggested. But I digress. A reunion with Robertson is not one I’m suggesting merely because it would make me happy, that’s just a bonus, but it’s actually one that could help the Yankees this year.
The Cubs went into full rebuilding mode last year when they traded away franchise icons like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. As such their 35-57 record (4th in the NL Central, 0.5 games ahead of the last-place Reds) should come as no surprise. 2022 is all about the participation trophy for them. They’re not trying to win anything.
Robertson was coming off a lost two years with the Phillies, a semi-resurgence in the Tokyo Olympics, and a rocky 12-game stint with the Rays in 2021. He just needed an opportunity to see if he still had anything left in the tank, and the Cubs just needed any semblance of help. And if the gamble didn’t work out, it’s fine for the Cubs since they had no realistic expectations of competing.
Fast forward to July, and David Robertson is one of the few things that works for the Cubs. In terms of bWAR, D-Rob trails only Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, and Willson Contreras on the North Side. His 2.1 bWAR would actually put him ahead of the aforementioned King (1.9 bWAR) and Holmes (1.8 bWAR).
After not knowing what his career held for him, Robertson has worked himself back to a closer’s role, granted that was almost by default just based on the Cubs’ roster, notching 13 saves so far. Still though, Robertson’s numbers speak for themselves and suggest a return to form. Prior to his injury with the Phillies, Robertson was the pinnacle of durability and reliability from a non-superstar reliever.
Because of his age and contract, acquiring Robertson wouldn’t require a king’s ransom either. Fortunately, the Yankees and Cubs have done a lot of high-profile business over the past few years so there’s also familiarity there. The Cubs do offer some other intriguing pieces in Contreras and Happ as well, so maybe some sort of package could be agreed upon. Regardless, bringing someone with Robertson’s pedigree into the mix would only make Aaron Boone’s job easier and help take some pressure off his better performers, liken Holmes and Wandy Peralta. It’s certainly an avenue worth exploring for Brian Cashman as he looks to bolster a team that currently sits as the World Series favorites during this trade season.
Bring my sweet prince home and never let him go again. And yes, I would require Miguel Castro give up the No. 30 jersey if this did occur. Rules is rules.