Late last night former Yankee closer David Robertson accepted a four-year $46 million dollar deal with the Chicago White Sox which was first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The deal signifies the end of the homegrown relievers seven-year career in pinstripes. The rumors had been flying around from the minute Robertson declined the Yankees $15.3 million dollar qualifying offer whether or not the Yankees would attempt to retain his services. It seems that the Yankees made somewhat of a half-hearted attempt to resign Drob, but in the end it always comes down to money. Robertson’s team was said to be looking for a four-year $50 million dollar deal from New York, and the Yankees had no real plans to go that high. The most the Yankees were willing to offer Robertson was four-years $40 million, and that offer is even being disputed by the YES Network’s Jack Curry. The Yankees are said to be very satisfied receiving the 2nd round compensatory draft pick for Robertson instead, that and they obviously saved about $50 million.
It’s not all bad for the Yankees, last week they signed hard throwing lefty Andrew Miller to a nice four-year deal, and we are well aware of the emergence of Dellin Betances. It certainly gives the Yankees a lot to look forward to, but it also opens up some potential question marks regarding the bullpen and the pitching staff as a whole. Will manager Joe Girardi go with a closer by committee? Depending on the match-up he could deploy either Betances or Miller in the ninth inning. They also have reliever Shawn Kelley, who has closer’s experience but questions surround his effectiveness as the fulltime closer. The most popular choice amongst fans would be to designate Betances as the heir to the throne. Betances could become the third different Yankee closer in as many years. He certainly showed he’s capable of handling high leverage situations last year, but will he be able to repeat the dominate year he had? That will be something we’ll have to wait and see, regardless of where and how he’s used.
With general manager Brian Cashman always exploring ways to improve the club, he could decide to kick the tires on a few veteran free agent closers still available on the market. The first name that comes up is 38-year-old reliever Jason Grilli. According to Brendan Kuty, Grilli’s agent has spoken with Cashman last night, citing that his client would be a good fit for the Yankees on a few different levels. While the Yankees might be interested, Grilli is looking for a two-year deal, and the Yankees might only be looking to dole out just a one-year deal for the 2012 All-star closer, who is also coming off a year that yielded mix results. It’s not known if any further discussions will take place between the two sides, it’s certainly a name to keep an eye on.
Another name that fans are familiar with would be former Yankee Rafael Soriano, who filled in as the closer in 2012 after Mariano Rivera went down with a knee injury. What makes him appealing is his experience as a closer and his prior tenure with the Yankees. He had a decent year with the Nationals in 2014, going 4-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 32 saves. While nothing concrete has come up officially linking Soriano to the team, but he’s certainly someone who could easily handle closing in New York again if the opportunity works for both sides.
Other closers that could also suffice would be Francisco Rodriguez and Sergio Romo. The 32-year-old K-Rod is tenth all time with 348 career saves, picked up 44 saves in 2014 while posting a 3.04 ERA with the Milwaukee Brewers. He would probably be looking for a long-term deal, at least in the two to three-year range, something the Yankees would like to avoid. But if the money is right, there’s always an outside shot he could end up back in New York. As for Romo, his disappointing season last year certainly will affect his value. Maybe just enough where the Yankees could come in on a low risk deal and see what sticks to the wall. At the very least he could add depth to pen and help tighten up the sixth and seventh innings.
Where the Yankees go with the bullpen is still up in the air. They do have returning pieces like Esmil Rogers, Adam Warren, Chase Whitley and David Phelps. Mix in newly acquired lefty Justin Wilson, Jose De Paula, and even Andrew Bailey, the Yankees should have the pieces to make it work. There are also some young arms in the farm that could make an impact Danny Burawa would get first crack, then last year’s draft standout Jacob Lindgren could see action if needed. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be opposed to adding a veteran closer either. The winter meetings hot stove is cooking, we just have to wait and see what boils up.