Of all the offseason pieces that the Toronto Blue Jays needed to address this winter, the one that remains an open wound is the team’s closer role, which was vacated at the end of the season when Casey Janssen became a free agent. Since that point, the team has been working on filling other needs and improving in other areas. But with the Winter Meetings about to be underway, the closer and more bullpen upgrades could be coming into focus again.
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And according to the New York Post, that focus could be set on David Robertson.
Per Post scribe Ken Davidoff, and his inside source, the Blue Jays are “in love” with closer David Robertson, formerly of the New York Yankees. And what’s not to love, the free agent closer is perhaps the top reliever of the free agent class, having saved 39 games with a 3.05 ERA, a 2.68 FIP, and a 13.4 K/9 ratio over 64.1 innings of work in his first season taking over for the legendary Mariano Rivera. More so, Robertson owns a career 2.81 ERA, 2.74 FIP, and a 12.0 K/9 ratio over his first seven seasons.
Needless to say, Robertson would immediately provide an upgrade over former closer Casey Janssen, who saved 25 games before melting down in the second half, posting a 3.94 ERA, a 4.14 FIP, and a 5.52 K/9 ratio. Additionally, Robertson bested Janssen in LOB% (77.1% vs 70.8%), GB% (44.2% vs 34.4%), and ERA- (78 vs 100, lower is better).
Of course, the caveat here is that Robertson will not come cheaply, as he’s rumored to be asking for 4-years, $50 million. That’s awfully steep for a closer, but the market seems to be moving in that direction, with the Yankees giving 4-years, and $36 million to Andrew Miller to be a set-up man, and the Astros supposedly offering Miller $40 million over 4 years. That said, the Phillies decision to give the big money deal to Jonathan Papelbon has bitten them hard and serves as a lesson for any team wishing to give that kind of money to a closer.
For the Blue Jays, they of course have their own lesson to live by. Toronto last gave a 5-year deal to a reliever when they inked B.J. Ryan to a 5-year, $47 million deal prior to the 2006 season. However, the Blue Jays got just two good years out of Ryan (2006, 2008), watching Ryan struggle with injuries in 2007 and 2009. Despite still having one year left on his deal in 2010, the Jays opted to cut ties and Ryan would not pitch another inning in the Major Leagues. Overall, the Blue Jays received only $11.4 million in value from Ryan, according to Fangraphs.
With that in mind, it still remains doubtful that Toronto will sink that kid of money into a closer, especially with the Astros out there with money to spend and a desire to do so on a reliever, pushing the price up. The Blue Jays could still turn their attention to a number of other options, including Sergio Romo, Francisco Rodriguez,and Rafael Soriano, or pursue a couple of power arms in the set-up market and try to convert one to a closer.