Now that the Yankees have shown that they are interested in locking up players before they hit free agency, the very next thing on the agenda should be extending David Robertson. As it currently stands, D-Rob is set to become a free agent in 2015, but why should the Yankees risk another team signing him, or the price being driven up, when they could extend him now?
Since being promoted to the major leagues in 2008, 28-year-old Robertson has put up the following career stats: 329 IP, 11.71 K/9, 3.91 BB/9, 0.63 HR/9, 1.25 WHIP, 2.76 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 7.6 fWAR. Players have hit just .218 off him. His most impressive season to date was in 2011 when he recorded 100 strikeouts through 66.2 innings, and allowed just 40 hits, and only one home run. Robertson has notably decreased the number of walks he's allowed since 2011, reducing his BB/9 from the 4.7 range down to 2.44. His 2013 stats are as follows: 66.1 IP, 10.45 K/9, 2.44 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, 1.04 WHIP, 2.04 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 1.6 fWAR. Robertson has had some injuries over the past six years: experiencing elbow tightness in 2009, falling down the stairs and ending up in a walking boot in March 2012, hitting the DL with an oblique strain in 2012, and missing a couple games in 2013 due to a calf strain and then shoulder tendinitis.
In terms of how much money and how many years an extension for Robertson would look like, we can compare him to other closers who have inked deals over the past few years. Craig Kimbrel and the Braves recently made a deal for an extension worth four-years, $42 million. As free agents, Jonathan Papelbon ended up with a contract with the Phillies worth four-years, $50 million, and Rafael Soriano landed a deal with the Nationals for two-years, $28 million (!!). The main difference between Robertson and these players is that they all have been closers for several years. Kimbrel is arguably the best closer out there, and yet he still signed a deal for less than what Papelbon's making. Had Kimbrel hit free agency, he probably could have made a lot more money. Extending Robertson now would save the team money, because if Robertson has a good season as closer then the price is going to go up.
In anticipation of the argument that Robertson is not a "proven closer," go ahead and re-read what Andrew recently wrote about the matter. The cliff notes version is that any stats regarding the short time period that Robertson served as closer in 2012 involve a very small sample size. Arguing that Robertson proved that he can't fill the roll of closer based on two games is silly. Robertson has been incredibly consistent over the past six years, and if anything, has improved by reducing his walks per nine innings. It's very unlikely that Robertson will have a total collapse and pitch horrendously for the duration of the season. Even if he does struggle with the closing role and gets demoted back to being the 8th inning guy, he's been great in that role and it would be wise to extend one of the best relievers on the team over the past few seasons who isn't named Mariano Rivera. If Robertson would be willing to sign an extension, then it would almost certainly be cheaper than waiting to bid on him when he hits the free agency market.
Do you think the Yankees should try to work out an extension with Robertson? What kind of deal do you think it would take in terms of years/money?