Yankees could target experienced bullpen arm on a bargain deal

mlb: houston astros at miami marlins, david robertson, yankees
Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees have been connected to many bullpen arms this off-season in potential free-agent moves. General manager Brian Cashman has been linked to all the top arms, but Josh Hader and Robert Stephenson have both been removed from the open market, signing deals with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Angels, respectively.

David Robertson: A Cost-Efficient Option

Could Robertson Be the Answer for the Yankees?

The Yankees could still make a run at Hector Neris, but the interest there is dwindling. Handing out a two-year, $20 million deal to a 34-year-old relief pitcher coming off his best season certainly doesn’t scream efficiency. However, the Yankees may decide to look in the direction of a cheaper option with more experience.

Now 38 years old, David Robertson remains a free agent after signing a one-year, $10 million deal with the New York Mets last off-season. The Mets ended up moving him to the Miami Marlins at the trade deadline, but he was excellent before the midseason transition. Across 44 innings with the Mets, Robertson hosted a 2.05 ERA but logged a 5.06 ERA across 21.1 innings with Miami.

Collectively, he finished with a 3.03 ERA, 10.74 strikeouts per nine, a 74.4% left-on-base rate, and a 43.1% ground ball rate. His numbers remain solid, and he’s logged consecutive quality seasons, pitching over 63 innings in each.

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The Yankees may be able to maximize a one-year contract for a player who has been good in his later years and has tossed 47.1 innings in the postseason. During playoff contention, Robertson has logged a 3.04 ERA, 83.3% left-on base rate, and 45.8% ground ball rate. Overall, he’s been more than adequate, with far superior numbers compared to Neris.

Looking at his advanced metrics, Robertson utilizes a cutter, knuckle curve, and slider as his primary three pitches. His cutter was phenomenal last season, hosting a .183 batting average, 25.9% whiff rate, and 25.9% put-away rate. His slider was a bit underwhelming, but his cutter and curveball combination were lethal. He still maintains solid velocity at 93.3 mph on his fastball, his highest velocity since 2011. His cutter generates 28% more vertical movement than the average pitcher, inducing 15.2 inches of drop.

Pitching coach Matt Blake may prefer to have a veteran in the bullpen who has experience in high-leverage situations but also helps eat up innings. The Yankees are unlikely to spend on another starting pitcher unless it’s via the trade market, so a cost-efficient contract for Robertson makes sense if the team is still keen on supporting their relief unit.