The Blue Jays and White Sox have discussed a possible trade involving Chicago closer David Robertson, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Nothing appears imminent, or even likely for that matter, but the news does suggest that the Toronto front office still plans to pad the team’s bullpen depth before the start of the 2017 season (and perhaps even add more than just a solid lefty, which is obviously the team’s most dire need).
Right now, the Jays have one lock-down bullpen weapon in Roberto Osuna, a strong veteran presence in Jason Grilli, who handled the eighth inning role well last year after his trade from Atlanta; and an interesting arm in Joe Biagini, who will try to back up his strong 2016 breakout performance. Beyond that, the bullpen rolls get rather fuzzy, and unless the Jays strike gold on a bunch of question marks, the rigors of the MLB season will likely expose this frail depth rather quickly.
David Robertson would be a good solution to this problem. He has a career 2.97 ERA and 11.9 K/9 ratio, which would instantly make him the second best arm in the Toronto pen. The 3.47 ERA Robertson posted last season was his highest mark since 2010, but much of that was inflated thanks to one isolated but disastrous six-run outing against the Royals in May. The biggest concern from Robertson’s 2016 numbers is his walk rate, which jumped to 4.6/9 last year. However, Robertson’s also continued to prove he’s extremely durable, appearing in at least 60 games for the last seven consecutive seasons. The positives clearly outweigh the negatives with this player, especially when you consider he’s already had success pitching in the AL East during his stint with the Yankees.
The tricky part to any potential deal comes with figuring out how the White Sox will be compensated for Robertson. The reliever is owed $12 million in 2017, and another $13 million in 2018, and it’s hard to ask any club interested in his services to pay that money and give up valuable prospects on top of it.
While Chicago’s fire sale is well underway after they unloaded both Adam Eaton and Chris Sale in separate deals with Washington and Boston back in December at the Winter Meetings, they could still wait until the mid-season deadline to deal Robertson as contending teams might be more desperate for relief help in July. (There will also be less of his contract left).
In any case, the Blue Jays probably still have to add something solid to this pen between now and Opening Day, and Roberson would be a good pick up if they decided to go that route.