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Phillies sign David Robertson

One of the best relievers remaining on the market heads to Philadelphia.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies have signed right-handed reliever David Robertson to a two-year deal for a guaranteed $23 million. He’ll earn $21 million over the first two years, with a $12 million team option or a $2 million buyout for 2021. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand had the details first:

Robertson, 33, has spent the majority of the past season-and-a-half as a setup man for Aroldis Chapman in the Yankees’ super bullpen, but he’s a closer by trade and will likely slide back into the ninth-inning role unless the Phillies also add Craig Kimbrel at some point. Of course, manager Gabe Kapler isn’t the biggest believer in traditional bullpen roles, either, so it’s possible that Robertson could be deployed earlier in the game if needed with the Phillies.

He’ll join a Phillies bullpen that isn’t exactly heavy on names but is now actually quite impressive, with Victor Arano, Seranthony Dominguez, Tommy Hunter, Adam Morgan, Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio, James Pazos, and Edubray Ramos among the intriguing arms who could help bridge the gap to Robertson.

Robertson didn’t have the best walk year in 2018; he posted a 3.23 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP over 69 appearances (69.2 innings), and he matched his career high in walks allowed. In addition, after a banner 2017 campaign, he saw his strikeout rate drop (12.91 to 11.76 per nine) and his walk rate rise (3.06 to 3.36 per nine) a bit. He also was involved in a small bit of off-field drama when The New York Daily News reported that he led an effort to stiff some coaches and members of the traveling support staff out of their playoff shares.

On the other hand, Robertson tended to excel against the most fearsome hitters in the opposing lineup, as The Athletic’s Jayson Stark pointed out on Twitter:

For his career, Robertson has a 2.88 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with 137 saves over 11 seasons. His most dominant season came in 2011 as a setup man for Mariano Rivera, when he posted a 1.08 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP and reached his lone All-Star game, receiving AL Cy Young and MVP votes.