David Robertson “letting it all play out”
Yankees reliever Shawn Kelley joined me for a phone interview this week, participating in a Thanksgiving feature that will appear on yankees.com over the holiday. During our conversation, we touched upon the situation with free agent closer David Robertson, who recently turned down a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Yankees and is reportedly seeking a four-year pact.
“We’ve talked once in a while; I’ll shoot him a text, or we have a little bullpen group message feed that we keep in touch with,” Kelley said. “Not a lot about baseball, but I’ve texted him personally to see what his thoughts are. Honestly, I think he’s just kind of letting it all play out at this point. Since he turned the qualifying offer down, he might as well hear what the teams have to say and see what the best situation is personally for him.”
Kelley, who just completed his second season with the Yankees, believes that Robertson has strong feelings about the idea of staying in pinstripes.
“I know he loves New York, I know he’s close with Mariano (Rivera) and wants to kind of follow in Mariano’s footsteps,” he said. “I’m sure there’s a big part of him that probably wants to stay in New York, but he’s got to do what’s best and see what’s out there. That’s where he’s at in his career right now. I’ll support anything he does. We’re close friends, we always will be and I want what’s best for him and his family.”
As the top closer available on the open market, Robertson and his representatives made a calculated gamble in declining the Yanks’ qualifying offer. One report suggested that Robertson is seeking “Jonathan Papelbon money,” approaching the $50 million pact that Papelbon signed with the Phillies, and Kelley said he couldn’t resist ribbing Robertson about what he’d turned down.
“I even texted him, just joking around, and said, ‘Man, did you ever think you’d be turning down $15.3 million?'” Kelley said. “But if you look into the circumstances, there are obviously a lot of reasons why it probably makes more sense. But if you just think about being a little kid and someone said, ‘Hey, I’ll give you $15 million to play one year,’ I think it would’ve been hard to turn down.”
With an eye toward the Hot Stove, Kelley also likely echoed the reaction of many American League East pitchers after hearing the Red Sox had signed both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.
“I’m thinking their lineup is getting a little tougher; it already did when they got (Yoenis) Cespedes and now Hanley and Pablo,” he said. “That’s going to be a dangerous lineup. I always hope that those free agents sign with National League teams so I don’t really have to face them. That’s part of it and teams are positioning themselves to put together 25 guys that are going to take them to the World Series. It’s not getting any easier in our division.”