David Robertson got himself a new deal in a new pair of pinstripes.
The 33-year-old right-handed reliever and the Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a $23 million, two-year contact on Thursday. Robertson gets $10 million this year and $11 million in 2020, and the Phillies have a $12 million option for 2021 with a $2 million buyout.
“The Phillies are a great organization, and they have that hunger to get back in the postseason and they’re going in the right direction,” Robertson said. “It’s a place where I’ll get a lot of opportunities to pitch in the back end of the bullpen and I don’t see any reason why we can’t get in the postseason.”
Robertson went 8-3 with a 3.23 ERA and five saves in 69 games last season for the New York Yankees. He left the Yankees after the 2014 season to sign a $46 million, four-year contract with the Chicago White Sox, who traded him to New York in July 2017.
An 11-year veteran and a 2011 All-Star, Robertson has appeared in at least 60 games in nine straight seasons. He could get opportunities to close in Philadelphia, which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2011. Seranthony Dominguez led the Phillies with 16 saves last season, and manager Gabe Kapler likes versatility in his bullpen.
“He’s going to pitch high-leverage innings for us,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said of Robertson. “That’s what he’s done very effectively and consistently for a long time. The fact he has experience pitching the ninth inning is very appealing for us.”
Hector Neris led the Phillies with 26 saves in 2017 and had 11 last year. He’s also in the mix to pitch the ninth. It’ll likely be determined by matchups.
Robertson has even better numbers against lefties than righties during his career. He has held lefties to a .188 batting average and .268 on-base percentage vs. .222 and .302 for righties.
“I want to pitch whenever I can to help the team win games,” Robertson said. “If I have to pitch in the sixth, seventh, eighth or even the ninth, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be in the back end of the bullpen when the big outs need to get made.”
Robertson represented himself in contract negotiations for the first time. Klentak said he was impressed and called it a “unique” experience talking money directly with the player.
“He was very well prepared, he knew the market very well, he knew what was important to him and he was able to articulate it well and that helped us get to a deal,” Klentak said.
Robertson spent parts of nine seasons in the majors with the Yankees, who selected him in the 17th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He made a pair of relief appearances against the Phillies in the 2009 World Series, allowing a two-run single to Raul Ibanez in the eighth inning of the opener and an RBI groundout to Carlos Ruiz in the third inning of Game 5.
Robertson replaced Mariano Rivera after he retired following the 2013 season and had 39 saves in 2014.
He’s 53-32 with a 2.88 ERA and 137 saves in 654 career appearances, all in relief.
“I had a great time playing in New York. They are an excellent organization,” Robertson said, adding he spoke to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman about returning. “New York will always hold a special place in my heart. It was just time for me to go someplace else.”
The Phillies have been active this offseason, acquiring shortstop Jean Segura and signing outfielder Andrew McCutchen. They finished 80-82 last year after leading the NL East in August.
Klentak said the team had a “productive” meeting with Manny Machado last month.
“I expect that the dialogue there will continue,” Klentak said.
The team also is scheduled to meet with Bryce Harper.