The Yankees Resign Zach Britton But Lose David Robertson In The Process
It should come as no surprise that the Yankees brought back one of their two elite bullpen arms that hit the free agent market. A staple of the lightning fast rebuild of the Yankees, GM Brian Cashman made it a top priority to ensure the bullpen remained one of the team's deadliest components. That said, the Yankees and their fans knew the chances of retaining both Britton and Robertson was nearly impossible.
Now that the deed is done, let's take a look at these two elite bullpen arms and break down if the Yankees really made the right call.
The Case For Zach Britton
Coming off a serious Achilles injury that had the baseball world doubting his ability to return to his near Cy Young form, Zach Britton steadily improved throughout the course of the year. The Yankees rewarded that improvement with a 3 year $39 Million dollar contract with a club option for a 4th year. Since suiting up in pinstripes, Britton posted a very solid 2.88 ERA out of the bullpen and had a great showing in the ALDS versus the Boston Red Sox. While Britton has still not shown that he is back to being an otherworldly reliever, he has at the very least shown that his floor is that of an exceedingly competent late innings stopper.
For all the good that came from Britton's bounce-back campaign, Britton struggled mightily with his control. Posting a 21-11 strikeout to walk ratio, Britton's command was far from that of his previous self. Britton often found himself in dangerous situations due to his inability to find the zone, but was, fortunately, able to battle his way out of the majority of those situations. A cardinal rule in baseball is that things always regress to the mean, and if one thing can be said for certain, it is that history says Britton will not continue to enjoy the same level of success if he cannot reign in his command.
The Case For David Robertson
A longtime fan favorite of Yankees fans, since returning to the pinstripes in 2017 there have been few men Yankees fans have trusted more in high leverage situations than D-Rob. A beacon of consistency, Robertson has been good for about 60+ innings and an ERA of around (and in some cases well below) the 3.00 mark for his entire career. In fact, Robertson posted an astounding 1.07 ERA after returning to the Yankees midway through the 2017 season and was a key cog in their surprisingly deep playoff run that year. Unfortunately for Yankees fans, the Phillies made Robertson an offer he couldn't turn down to the tune of 2 years and $23 Million dollars and his days as a Yankee are done.
Although Robertson has steadily posted great numbers throughout his career, the fact remains that he is a few years older than Britton and only one of them could stay. While relievers typically have longer shelf lives compared to their starter brethren, it does make sense as to why the Yankees would prefer to pay the big bucks to the younger arm.
If there is one thing we've learned from Brian Cashman during his tenure as the GM of the Yankees, it is that he always seems to be a step ahead of everyone else. That said, I can't help but feel that the Yankees may have paid the wrong man here. At the end of the day, this Yankees team is built to compete in a playoff series and while Britton threw well against the Red Sox, Robertson has been absolutely LIGHTS OUT in the postseason against any lineup he faces. Britton struggled in the Wild Card game and when it comes down to it, Robertson is simply the man most Yankees fans will tell you that they trust.
Time will only tell if Cashman made the right move, but in the immediate aftermath, it looks like the Yankees might have been better off retaining the services of the man they call D-Rob.