We have movement. Finally.
According to multiple reports, the Phillies have agreed to terms with free agent relief pitcher David Robertson on a two-year deal that should go a long way towards solidifying what looks to be a formidable bullpen. The details:
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
The 33-year-old Robertson pitched to a 3.23 ERA with an impressive 1.03 WHIP while holding opposing batters to only a .179 average over 69 appearances with the Yankees last season.
Robertson has excelled in limiting contact throughout his career. He’s posted at least a 10.4 K/9 in each of his 11 Major League seasons. According to FanGraphs pitch data, his fastball velocity in 2018 (92.3 mph) was in line with his career averages, but he went to it in a career-low 42.5% of his pitches. That was partly due to the implementation of what was essentially a previously non-existent slider (14.4%) and an increased reliance on his best pitch, the curveball (42.5%), which often has a knuckle effect.
Look at this thing:
David Robertson, Knuckle Curve movement. pic.twitter.com/5JIuLD6H1e
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) January 19, 2018
So what does the move mean for the Phillies’ bullpen? Although Gabe Kapler was reluctant to define roles for his relievers last season, it’s safe to assume Robertson will be called upon to pitch in high-leverage situations.
The team is still light on left-handed relievers, but it’s certainly worth noting that Robertson held the 132 left-handed hitters he faced in 2018 to a .172 batting average and .240 on-base percentage. That will play.
Moreover, going two years at a relatively reasonable price for a guy with big game experience who has proven the ability to record key outs late in games is always a good thing. While he will turn 34 early this season, there’s really nothing in terms of his peripherals that suggest we should anticipate regression during the course of the deal.
I like it.