David Robertson gets another opportunity with the Philadelphia Phillies.
He never got the chance to be the type of high leverage reliever he expected to be when he signed a two-year, $23 million deal ahead of the 2019 season. appearances in that season, Robertson suffered an arm injury that required surgery by Tommy John, and he did not throw another pitch in a Phillies uniform.
Robertson gets another shot at being what the Phillies needed after the Cubs traded him to the Phillies on Tuesday for starting prospect Ben Brown.
Brown, 22, was recently promoted to the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate after posting a 3.08 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) at High A Jersey Shore. Baseball America’s midseason rankings placed him seventh in the Phillies system.
Robertson wasn’t the only Cubs reliever to move on Tuesday. Veteran right-hander Mychal Givens was dealt to the New York Mets minutes before the 5 p.m. deadline.
Givens is thrilled to reunite with Mets manager Buck Showalter, who was at the helm in Baltimore when Givens was an Orioles rookie in 2015.
“The Cubs have been first class with me and with the organization and they’ve done a great job of rebuilding,” Givens said. “It was a great opportunity to play here. … They treat us all like family here.
Givens, 32, posted a 2.66 ERA and two saves in 40 appearances for the Cubs, who this offseason have targeted veteran weapons to bolster pitching personnel and possibly create trade leverage .
Givens hasn’t allowed an earned run since June 14, a 16-game (17⅓ innings) streak. During that span, the batters are hitting .186 with just two extra hits against him.
Robertson seemed excited about a possible reunion with the Phillies when he spoke to the Tribune last month about the possibility.
“I know a lot of people there; that would be awesome,” he said. “It would be nice to pitch there after being so excited to go there. My body just let me down. It was an ideal place for this contract. I was like, ‘This is perfect. I might become the round 9, round 8, high leverage guy,” and then my elbow exploded. It was frustrating.
Robertson’s bet on himself paid off.
After the operation cost him two seasons, the 37-year-old has returned to form this year. He played 12 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021 for his first major league action since April 2019.
Robertson, who represented himself during contract negotiations, wanted to find the right person. That led to a one-year, $3.5 million deal — including up to $1.5 million in incentives — with the Cubs in March.
And now he’s on his way to a playoff contender.
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Robertson reestablished his status as one of the league’s best late-inning relievers. He posted a 2.23 ERA, 1.041 WHIP, 189 ERA+ and 14 saves in 40⅓ innings in 36 appearances.
Ahead of last week’s series opener in San Francisco, Robertson reflected on how he would look back on his four months with the Cubs if traded.
“I had another opportunity and got a deal that I thought was favorable for me and I thought was a fair enough jolt to bounce back in my career,” Robertson said. “I can’t thank the Cubs enough and I will continue to play hard as long as I’m a Cub. … I had a good time. Wrigley is an amazing place to play baseball. It’s nice to be on the side of the house and not on the side of the road.
He fulfilled his dream of hitting in a major league game when manager David Ross let him hit against the Pirates on June 22 in Pittsburgh. Robertson hit on a full pitch from Pirates infielder Diego Castillo.
Ross avoided publicly naming a closer comer to the season, but it quickly became clear that Robertson was the veteran the manager wanted in the role. Robertson converted 14 of 19 save chances, his most since 2017.
His 33 relief appearances in the playoffs made him a prized commodity leading up to the trade deadline. Robertson has a 3.11 ERA and 1.062 WHIP in 37⅔ playoff innings, which includes a 2009 World Series title with the New York Yankees.
The departures of Robertson and Givens potentially create more high leverage and backup situations for Rowan Wick.
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