David Robertson has been incredible for the Cubs this season, racking up 14 saves in 35 appearances after logging just 18.2 total innings in the previous three years. He’s throwing harder than ever at 37 years old and his slider/curve combo is shutting down batters on both sides of the plate. That performance and the fact that he’s only owed about $1.5 million on the remainder of his one-year deal makes him quite the hot commodity as the deadline approaches.
The Yankees, who have employed Robertson at two different points in the past, are among the teams at the top of the list of fits for Robertson. Joel Sherman of the New York Post mentioned the interest, though he tempered that somewhat by saying the Yanks might try to replicate the success they’ve had with Clay Holmes by finding another less-hyped reliever with a single dominant pitch.
Sounds a little like the reports of teams expressing concern about Willson Contreras being able to mesh with a new pitching staff, but whatever.
Sherman noted that the Mets were after Robertson as well, something fellow Post scribe Mike Puma covered in more detail a day prior. Because Robertson has done so well against left-handed hitters, the Mets could view him almost like having another lefty in the bullpen. We also know that the Mets are weak at catcher and have discussed the idea of acquiring Robertson and Contreras in a package deal.
The Rays are among the teams scouting Cubs relievers and Ken Rosenthal wrote that they could “swing big,” noting the talks about possibly acquiring Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel at last year’s deadline. That would probably mean going after either Contreras or Ian Happ, neither of whom seem to be likely Tampa targets, but maybe it’s a matter of acquiring two Cubs relievers.
After all, Robertson isn’t the only available arm on a short-term deal. Mychal Givens has been solid in a late relief role this season and has very reasonable splits, plus he has an option for next season that could add a little value to the equation. Though his base for this year is the same $3.5 million as Robertson, Givens carries a $3.5 million mutual option for ’23 that has a $1.5 million buyout. Given his consistent performance over the last several seasons, it’s a good bet his new team would pick up that option.
Chris Martin hasn’t been mentioned nearly as much as the previous two, but he’s pitched better than his 4.50 ERA and is only owed about $1 million for the remainder of the season. I have to imagine more than a few teams would have interest in a pitcher who walks very few batters and has nearly identical splits. He’s got a troubling injury history and it’s a little scary to see that he’s allowed a .295 average to opposing hitters, but that seems ripe for correction between a wildly elevated .383 BABIP and 54.1% grounder rate.
Dave O’Brien of The Athletic mentioned that the Braves are looking at bullpen help for the stretch run, though he dismissed the idea of a reunion with Martin. We know the Cubs have been exploring package deals between their two All-Stars and their righty relievers, so getting Happ to man left field in Atlanta might involve Robertson or Givens.
This is definitely something to keep an eye on, so expect to see a lot of folks reading the bullpen-usage tea leaves as the Cubs face the Giants in San Francisco over a long weekend series.