SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Though he had surgery earlier this offseason to clean up a pre-existing meniscus tear, the White Sox expect David Robertson will be ready for spring training.
General manager Rick Hahn said from baseball’s GM meetings that the White Sox closer’s knee issue was pre-existing. Rather than rehab the injury, Robertson opted for surgery with an expected recovery time of four weeks. Robertson also suffered a glut injury in July and finished the season with 37 saves in 44 tries and a 3.47 ERA in 62 1/3 innings.
“He could rehab it and continue to pitch with it in there or just clean up and be done with it,” Hahn said. “He decided to get it cleaned up. It will certainly be fine by camp. They were talking about four weeks and he’s back to normal. Everything went well with that. It’s just a matter of getting it out of the way.”
Robertson could be an interesting trade chip if the White Sox decide to rebuild. The club could capitalize on a market with an insatiable thirst for relief help and few proven options. Robertson, who has 110 saves the past three seasons, including 71 since he joined the White Sox, has two years and $25 million left on his contract.
As many as five teams are in search of closers with only Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon and Aroldis Chapman available via free agency. All three would seem to be destined for handsome paydays. At an average of $12.5 million, Robertson could even be a strong fit for a team in search of a setup man like the Boston Red Sox.
Robertson’s strikeouts per nine innings has declined from 13.4 in 2014 to 10.8 last season with the White Sox. He also has seen an increase in walks per nine with 4.6 in 2016, up from 3.2 in 2014.
Hahn thinks some of Robertson’s struggles arose from a combination of the injury he suffered prior to the All-Star break. Robertson had a 3.81 ERA with four homers allowed, 12 walks and 32 strikeouts in 26 innings after the Midsummer Classic. He had a 3.22 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 20 walks in 36 1/3 innings before the All-Star Game.
“After he did the thing with the glut, it seemed like he was a little shakier coming back from that,” Hahn said. “It seems like he didn’t rebound entirely from that. Once he gets that healthy and the knee healthy he should be back to normal. He never said it bothered him. … In my mind it wasn’t quite the same after the glut thing and that may have contributed to the knee barking at him trying to protect the glut.”