Free-agent reliever David Robertson has signed a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies that includes a third-year club option, the team announced Thursday.
Robertson will make $10 million in 2019 and $11 million in 2020, a source told ESPN. A $12 million option for 2021 includes a $2 million buyout.
The 33-year-old is expected to slot into the back end of the Phillies’ bullpen alongside Seranthony Dominguez, giving manager Gabe Kapler a pair of right-handers to call upon in the ninth inning.
“The Phillies are a great organization, and they have that hunger to get back in the postseason and they’re going in the right direction,” Robertson said. “It’s a place where I’ll get a lot of opportunities to pitch in the back end of the bullpen and I don’t see any reason why we can’t get in the postseason.”
An 11-year veteran who has spent most of his career with the Yankees, Robertson went 8-3 with five saves and a 3.23 ERA in 69 relief appearances last season for a Yankees bullpen that was third in the American League with a 3.38 ERA. New York expects to add another reliever and has been in discussions with free agent Zach Britton, league sources told ESPN.
“He’s going to pitch high-leverage innings for us,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said of Robertson. “That’s what he’s done very effectively and consistently for a long time. The fact he has experience pitching the ninth inning is very appealing for us.”
Robertson had quality regular-season splits that were almost identical pre- and post-All-Star break, a testament to his consistency. He excelled at helping get leads to closer Aroldis Chapman, who had 32 saves in 34 chances last season. Robertson’s WHIP ranked seventh among AL relievers who pitched at least 60 innings, and opponents hit .183 against him.
“I want to pitch whenever I can to help the team win games,” Robertson said. “If I have to pitch in the sixth, seventh, eighth or even the ninth, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to be in the back end of the bullpen when the big outs need to get made.”
Robertson, who negotiated the deal himself, is 53-32 with a 2.88 ERA and 137 saves in 654 relief appearances with the Yankees and Chicago White Sox. He enjoyed a breakout 2011 season as Mariano Rivera’s setup man, going 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 70 appearances.
“He was very well prepared, he knew the market very well, he knew what was important to him and he was able to articulate it well and that helped us get to a deal,” Klentak said.
Since 2010, Robertson has thrown 583 innings, the third most by any pitcher as a reliever in that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He also has the most wins by a reliever (47) and the fourth-best ERA (2.72, minimum 500 innings pitched) in that span.
“I had a great time playing in New York. They are an excellent organization,” Robertson said, adding he spoke to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman about returning. “New York will always hold a special place in my heart. It was just time for me to go someplace else.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.