That's really the only way to describe what this feels like. It's a feeling a lot of Yankees fans are not use to, even though it just happened not too long ago. The Yankees lost Robinson Cano, a homegrown superstar, to the Mariners last year. Yesterday the Chicago White Sox signed David Robertson to a four year, $46 million dollar deal. Two elite homegrown players gone in two years. These are definitely not the Yankees I'm accustomed to watching. Quite frankly, I am not a fan. Losing Cano and D-Rob to free agency is not what sucks the most about these past two years. It's tweets like these that put people like me in the Angry Dome.
Yankees never made an official offer to David Robertson. So he wasn't picking between White Sox and Yankees.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 9, 2014
Yankees met w/ Robertson's agent last night and said they weren't going to make offer. A few hours later, he signed with White Sox.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 9, 2014
The Yankees apparently didn't even make Robertson an offer. The only two words I have to describe this are "expletive" and "deleted." If you read Pinstripe Alley during the 2013 Winter Meetings, and we certainly hope that you have, you know that the debate over whether or not the Yankees low balled Cano went back and forth for months. Perhaps more information will be revealed in the coming days, but to not make an offer to David Robertson, an excellent reliever who provided years of excellent services rendered, is unbelievable. After the Yankees signed Andrew Miller, there were talks of how the Yankees now had some kind of leverage to get D-Rob back. I'm not a professional negotiator, but I'm pretty sure leverage only works when you have any intent of using it.
My frustration with this has nothing to do with the current state of the Yankees bullpen. For all intents and purposes, the Yankees bullpen is still a strength. Andrew Miller is good at what he does and Dellin Betances is excellent at what he does. The two of them, plus the potential of Jacob "Strikeout Factory" Lindgren, still make the Yankees' bullpen less of a concern than finding a starting pitcher or two. In addition to that, Brian Cashman has been very adequate at constructing a bullpen from scraps, much like Tony Stark did when he built his first suit in a cave. It's not that Betances cannot pitch the 9th inning either. As now former Yankees closer David Robertson proved this year, the transition from the 8th inning to the 9th is not difficult when you have the talent. Overall, my frustration about this lies with how the Yankees have seemingly been treating their elite homegrown players as of late.
This could simply be an overreaction to the misery of losing D-Rob to free agency, but lately it seems like there's no extra bonus for doing excellent work with the Yankees anymore. Robinson Cano gave the Yankees nine years of superb, injury free services as their second baseman. His offer was very close to what former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury signed for. David Robertson was a great set-up man to Mariano Rivera, and then almost effortlessly took over for him in the closer role this year. The Yankees go out and sign Andrew Miller for a little less than what it would have cost them to retain D-Rob in the bullpen. Was that extra bit of money too rich for the Yankees' blood? Is that draft pick really going to be worth it?
Losing David Robertson might not be that upsetting to some. As stated above, the Yankees bullpen is still a strength. Even though D-Rob is one of the best relievers in the game, he is still just a reliever. There's no reason to think that Dellin Betances cannot step into the closer role next year. The Yankees also get a higher draft pick now, and rebuilding the farm is a priority. However, losing a homegrown superstar to free agency sucks. Losing a homegrown superstar to free agency when the team signs another similar free agent for a few million dollars less a year really, really sucks.
Everyone should understand that baseball is a business, first and foremost. Signing Miller over D-Rob makes sense financially. It would just be nice to think that a little bit of an overpay for David Robertson would have been worth it, in addition to it being a nice reward for providing the Yankees with years upon years of excellent performance. The Yankees have overpaid for superstar talent in the past, both homegrown and via free agency. This is a franchise that in recent years has given Ichiro Suzuki a two year deal and Carlos Beltran a three year deal. This is a franchise that would have continued to pay Derek Jeter and play him at shortstop well past 40 years old if he did not retire.
It's almost appropriate that Derek Jeter is now retired and earning that sweet blogger coin. His departure heralded the end of the Yankees a lot of us were use to watching, in more ways than one. The next Yankees captain is not arriving anytime soon. Who knows when we'll ever see one again. These past two years have demonstrated that there is seemingly little to no more bonus or reward to homegrown players. If what the fans are clamoring for comes true, if the Yankees actually achieve the improbable and bring up another "core four" and they win a championship, who's to say how long the Yankees keep them now.
Elite homegrown players can get a lot of young fans into baseball, much like Derek Jeter did for many players who are in the majors today. I'm not saying that David Robertson was such a player. All I'm saying is that when it comes to baseball and the Yankees, I personally enjoy rooting for the person a lot more than I do the laundry. Rooting for the person is why the Hug of Eternal Feels at Mo's last game at Yankee Stadium is just a punch to the emotions every time I see it. It's why Derek Jeter's final home game at Yankee Stadium was, for lack of a better word, perfect.
So many fans are fine with letting Chase Headley walk not just because of the years and money involved in re-signing him, but because they want to see Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela compete for a chance to be the starting second baseman. Today is a day where I tend to care very little about that either way. The excitement of hoping one of those two can be the next homegrown superstar is now completely diluted with the fact that I have no idea if the Yankees will retain them even if they develop into one.