Closer Robertson, White Sox reach 4-year, $46 million deal
SAN DIEGO — David Robertson is leaving the New York Yankees after one season as closer, agreeing to a $46 million, four-year contract with the Chicago White Sox, a source confirmed to FOX Sports MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal on Monday night.
Chicago also acquired starter Jeff Samardzija in a trade from the Oakland Athletics. Samardzija had pitched for the crosstown Cubs before he was traded to the Athletics in July.
A right-hander who turns 30 in April, Robertson had spent his seven-year big league career with the Yankees. He took over from Mariano Rivera as New York’s closer last season and saved 39 games in 44 chances.
New York had prepared for the possibility of Robertson’s departure by agreeing last week to a $36 million, four-year contract with left-hander Andrew Miller, who joins Dellin Betances in the back end of the Yankees’ bullpen. New York’s offer was for far less than Chicago’s, another person familiar with the talks said. That person spoke on condition of anonymity because the amount was not revealed.
Robertson’s deal has an average salary of $11.5 million, falling $1 million below the average of Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year deal with Philadelphia that began in 2012.
Robertson will be joining a team that finished fourth in the AL Central at 70-92, one whose saves leader was rookie Jake Petricka with 14.
The agreement with Robertson stunned at least one of Robertson’s new teammates. Outfielder Adam Eaton tweeted the message ”Wow,” along with a photo of Sesame Street’s Bert with the caption ”mind blown.”
— Adam Eaton (@AdamSpankyEaton) December 9, 2014
Because the White Sox had among the top-10 initial picks in next year’s amateur draft, they lose a second-round selection next June rather than their first-round choice, which is eighth overall. The Yankees receive an extra pick between the first and second rounds.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman revealed Tuesday he had no interest in retaining Robertson once New York agreed Friday to a $36 million, four-year deal with Miller.
”The Miller acquisition with the draft pick was the best route, we think and I think, of moving forward, regardless of how great Robertson has been as a setup man and a closer this past year,” Cashman said. ”It might not be the popular decision but I think it’s the best one.”
When the Yankees announced Miller’s agreement Friday, Cashman didn’t rule out keeping Robertson.
”I wanted him to maximize his free-agent value, to be honest, not that he needs any help from me,” Cashman said, ”but I felt it was in his interest to get out the Yankees still (being) in it.”
Cashman met Monday with Robertson’s agent, Scott Leventhal.
”Is there a Yankee price you want me to consider?” Cashman recalled asking. ”And he just said, `If you’re interested, make me an offer.”’
”They never made me an offer,” Cashman added. ”I never made them one.”
”I’m happy for him, because I feel like relievers get one shot usually at a long-term contract,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
New York’s remaining bullpen options include Miller, Betances, Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Justin Wilson. None has been a regular closer.
”We feel that our bullpen is going to be very strong again,” Girardi said. ”Trying to iron out a closer, that’s something we’ll have to do. I’m not really worried about that because of the arms that we have down there.”
Robertson’s exit follows Robinson Cano’s departure last offseason for Seattle, which gave him a $240 million, 10-year deal. With the retirements of Rivera after the 2013 season and Derek Jeter this year, outfielder Brett Gardner becomes the Yankees’ senior homegrown player.
”I would think the fan base is connected to the pinstripes and hopefully the winning teams that we always intend to put on the field,” Cashman said.