It is now December 10th and I just heard the bad news − for Yankee fans like myself − that the White Sox will sign David Robertson to a four year $46 million dollar contract and the Cubs have just signed Jon Lester to a 6-year $155 million contract. A week ago the Yankees signed the left-handed relief specialist Andrew Miller to a four year $36 million dollar contract. Miller has never been a closer and until last year had a very up and down career; whereas, Robertson has proven himself last year to be arguably one of the top three closers in baseball. Yes, over the next four years the Yankees will save $3 million dollars a year which to the Yankees is like petty cash. However, they have swapped an established closer for a pitcher who has never closed. The Yankees do have a great potential closer in Delan Betances who arguably was the best relief pitcher in baseball last year. The talk is the closer position will be a two-headed monster with the lefty being Miller and the righty being Betances.
My question to GM Cashman is: Why did you not offer Robertson the $46 million for four years which equates to $11.5 million per year and keep him as the closer? This would allow the Yankees to keep Betances as the eighth inning specialist and then make Miller the seventh inning specialist. This would arguably give the Yankees the best late inning relief staff in baseball. Since a starter in today’s game is only expected to pitch six innings, the Yankees would be in a position to win the close games. Would an extra $11.5 million a year really hurt the Yankees’ payroll? If the Yankees had these three relievers there would be less pressure on the offense and the Yankees would be following the successful formula used by Kansas City last year.
Reality is the Yankees have lost Robertson to the White Sox. So let’s look at their starting pitching for next year. Their ace, Masahiro Tanaka, has a ligament tear in his pitching elbow which was not operated on in the off season. The ace − in – name − only, CC Sabathia, is equally uncertain because of a knee injury and a diminished velocity on his fastball. Michael Pineda, the number three starter is always injury prone. The number four starter Ivan Nova is recovering from surgery and probably won’t be available until June. The traded away the fifth starter Sean Greene. Of course, the Yankees could sign Brandon McCarthy who did well last year. But, in my opinion this is a very troublesome set of starting pitchers.
With Jon Lester signed, the only big fish left in the free agency market as a starting pitcher is Max Scherzer. There is some optimism for us Yankee fans because since Brian Cashman took over as GM of the Yankees big signings have come after December 1. Last Year the Yankees waited until December to spend $281 million on Ellsbury, McCann, and Beltran. They also signed Tanaka in January. If George was still alive there is no question in my mind that either Lester or Scherzer or maybe both would be in the Yankee pinstripes for the 2015 season. But, as we have learned by now, his sons are business men with a budget. I hope I am wrong and the uncertainty of the projected starters for 2015 will force the George’s sons to break the bank.
One criticism of Cashman is that he is more willing to spend money on other team’s players than resigning his own players. Look at Robinson Cano, their best offensive player, who they let slip away last year. Albeit, Cano’s 10-year contract might have been too much. Remember, the A-Rod contract. With the signing of Andrew Miller and the non-signing of David Robinson, Cashman has done it again.
I am sure the Yankees aren’t finished signing free agent pitchers or trading for a pitcher so let’s see what happens in December and January.