Are we about to see a run on relievers? We’re out of the holiday break, the market is still pretty crowded, and arbitration figure exchange is next week. Sure seems like we should see a lot of free agent movement, and the relief market is as good a bet as any.
To that end, I wonder if this is the first in a series of moves:
BREAKING: David Robertson has agreed to a two-year deal with the Phillies that guarantees him at least $23 million. He’ll earn $10M in 2019, $11M in 2020, with a $12M club option ($2M buyout) for 2021. He’s passed a physical and the deal is complete.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 3, 2019
David Robertson, who served as his own agent, gets a deal pretty close to what Andrew Miller got from the Cardinals. The 33-year-old righty probably isn’t the super-dominant guy in 2011-13 and 2017, but even if he’s merely the very good guy he was last year (3.23 ERA, 2.97 FIP), he’s worth this investment by the Phillies. You may not get the upside of Miller, but you also don’t get the downside risk of Miller’s injury history.
It still doesn’t qualify as “stupid” money, but the Phillies have added about $100 million in contracts this offseason between Robertson, Andrew McCutchen, and the trade that swapped Carlos Santana for Jean Segura. A young, nearly-competitive team with a lot of needs, these moves have been pretty critical to the Phillies’ hopes of staying afloat in a tough NL East. It probably won’t be enough, though, which is why they’re still very much in on Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
With the Phillies landing Robertson, you wonder if now the Yankees will be all the more aggressive in trying to retain Zach Britton, a plausible Cubs target. It’s more likely they’ll be shopping at a lower tier, though.
Other than Britton, you might see activity on Craig Kimbrel and Adam Ottavino now pick up, as well as the group of relievers below that tier (Kelvin Herrera, Cody Allen, Justin Wilson), and the relievers below that tier (Brad Brach, Oliver Perez, Sergio Romo, Shawn Kelley, Tyler Clippard, Ryan Madson, David Phelps, etc.).