Rangers finalize 1-year deal with reliever Robertson

Texas also announces deal with OF Travis Jankowski

January 29th, 2024

Reliever already knows what it feels like to be a World Series champion, having won a title with the Yankees in 2009. But the 15-year veteran said on Monday that he wants another shot at postseason glory, which is why he signed a one-year deal with the defending champion Rangers last Friday. 

Robertson will get $11.5 million guaranteed in the deal, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. He'll earn $5 million in 2024 with a $7 million mutual option for 2025 ($1.5 million buyout). There is also $1 million per year in deferred money from 2027-31.

“They’re the reigning champs,” Robertson said via Zoom. “It was a difficult decision, but in the end, it was a good fit for me. There’s an opportunity to fit in the back end of the bullpen. And with the powerhouse offense we have, I’m excited about that.”

The Rangers also announced a one-year deal with speedy outfielder , who returns after being a key contributor in the postseason. To make room for both players on the 40-man roster, right-handed pitcher Daniel Duarte was designated for assignment.

Robertson was, for the second consecutive season, one of the more highly sought-after relievers available at the 2023 Deadline, but the transition after his July 28 trade from the Mets to the Marlins – his fifth team since August 2021 -- was especially brutal. In 10 August appearances, he pitched to a 9.00 ERA and was demoted from the closer role entering the home stretch of Miami’s playoff push.

He did recover following the demotion, however, allowing just two runs over his final 11 regular-season appearances and ending the year with a 3.03 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings.

“Physically, I feel good,” said Robertson, who has posted a 2.72 ERA in 129 innings over the last two seasons. “I still feel like I can hang.”

Entering his 15th Major League season, Robertson’s 793 regular-season and 42 postseason appearances are the second and third most among active pitchers, respectively. In May, he became just the 14th pitcher in AL/NL history to record 1,000 strikeouts as a reliever, and his career 11.8 K/9 is the sixth highest in the Modern Era among pitchers with at least 500 IP.

Although 2024 would be his age-39 season, Robertson did undergo Tommy John surgery in August 2019, which, in addition to creating a two-year gap in his Major League resume, appears to have revitalized his career. Since his return with the Rays in August 2021, he’s posted a 2.87 ERA with 175 strikeouts in 141 innings (11.2 K/9).

Robertson will provide a much-needed boost to the Rangers’ bullpen going into 2024 as he joins Kirby Yates as an offseason addition.

Texas finished 24th in MLB in bullpen ERA (4.77) in the regular season, while going just 30-for-63 (47.6 percent) in save opportunities. The unit stepped up in a big way during the postseason run, especially players like José Leclerc and Josh Sborz. Robertson will provide much more stability than the club saw last year.

While Leclerc likely enters Spring Training leading the conversation at closer -- having reclaimed the job after a dominant postseason -- manager Bruce Bochy will no doubt evaluate all options in high-leverage situations. Robertson was 18-of-24 in saves in 2023, which was better than every Texas reliever last season except Will Smith, who went 22-of-27, but lost the closer job down the stretch.

But Robertson said he’s open to any role and just wants to be able to contribute to an already stacked roster.

“I’m not in this to close down games, I’m in it to win games,” Robertson said. “However we win, I just want to be a part of it.”

With Smith and Aroldis Chapman departing in free agency, the additions of Robertson and Yates are a grounding force for a bullpen in much need of stabilization.

“I think looking at his track record the last couple of years, and last year, he was phenomenal,” executive vice president and general manager Chris Young said. “He was somebody we talked about at the Deadline last year and we weren't able to get him, but he's got elite makeup, a competitive spirit and just wants the ball in big moments. I think that says a lot about who he is, and then obviously the performance has spoken for itself. We certainly think he can make our bullpen better to go along with the group that we have in addition to Kirby Yates, and we're excited about where those guys are.”