When Mariano Rivera decided to end his historic Hall of Fame career at the end of the 2013 season, trying to replace a legend for his position at the closer spot was something the New York Yankees did not look forward to, yet, it was something that needed to be done.
After toying around with the idea of pursuing free agents for the job, the Yankees have decided to stay in-house for the job as both owner Hal Steinbrenner and general manager Brian Cashman have named setup man David Robertson the team's closer for the 2014 season.
The news of Robertson being named the closer comes on the wings of the team signing Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year, $155 million deal and while the team could have tried to sign or trade for someone on the market, the Yankees owner felt it was best to hand the job over to Robertson.
“We are going to continue to look, but no doubt we have already spent a lot of money this offseason,” Steinbrenner said. “I have a lot of confidence in Robertson and so does [manager] Joe [Girardi]. Robertson is going to be our closer, and I believe he will do a good job. We have done a lot to improve our team and we just have to understand that you cannot be perfect everywhere.”
Cashman feels that while Robertson is the odds-on favorite to get the job and attempt to replace Rivera as the new Yankees closer, the team hasn't closed the door all the way on adding additional backup options just in case something happens.
“Obviously, [Robertson’s] the odds-on favorite. We’ll play it out and see how spring training goes,” Cashman said, not ruling out further signings. “The more the merrier.”
Since taking the setup job in 2011, Robertson has thrived pitching under the guidance and mentorship of Rivera and after hearing Steinbrenner's words, the 28-year-old was thrilled to know he had confidence in him going forward to be the guy for the ninth inning.
“It’s nice to hear, finally,” Robertson told The Post by phone from Tampa. “Now I know I have the opportunity and it’s up to me to go do the job. I’ll approach the ninth like I did the eighth,” said Robertson, who will receive the Good Guy Award from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Saturday at the New York Hilton. “I’ve been under Mariano’s wing for a while and [know] the situation I’m getting into.”
While Robertson is being given the title of the closer for now, it wouldn't be a shocker to see the Yankees add a reliever or two before the start of spring training. While they may now be out of the running for top free agents like Grant Balfour and Fernando Rodney, it wouldn't shock anyone around baseball to see them sign a closer like Andrew Bailey, Joel Hanrahan or Ryan Madson; all of which are coming off extreme injuries and would be considered reclamation projects, but all of which have closing experience; Hanrahan and Bailey were both former closers for the Boston Red Sox. Plus, if for some reason Robertson were to go down with an injury at any time, it would be wise for the Yankees to have backup options to fill in at the spot, thus why any one of those three pitchers would be considered a good signing.
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