By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — At nearly every turn when reporters convene at White Sox closer David Robertson’s locker, the conversation turns to trade talk.
As the White Sox have embarked on a ground-up rebuilding process, this is unavoidable. Robertson’s is a proven closer who could do wonders for contending teams, and everyone knows that. After having a knee cleanup with arthroscopic surgery last fall, the 31-year-old Robertson is ready for whatever fate awaits him.
“My job is to do my thing and help some of these younger guys along the way,” Robertson said.
Robertson hasn’t been in this situation before. For seven seasons, he played on Yankees teams that were in win-now mode, then he controlled his own destiny when he became a free agent after the 2014 season. It was then that he signed a four-year deal with the White Sox for $44 million. He did so with the thought that the White Sox were on a winning path with a young, talented rotation and a veteran-laden group of position players.
The results of Robertson’s two seasons with Chicago have been mostly positive. He has converted 71 of 85 save chances, with a 3.41 ERA in 2015 and 3.47 ERA last year. Still, those numbers haven’t been good enough in Robertson’s mind, as he doesn’t like the seven blown saves he had in each of the past two seasons.
“My knee had nothing to do with my last two seasons,” Robertson said. “The knee irritated me. That is not why I had a tough season last year. In my opinion, these have been the worst two seasons of my career. I am not happy with it, and I am hoping to definitely improve. I will not blame an injury. We all play with some pain. I should have pitched better.”
The possibility of getting traded isn’t something Robertson worries about as he prepares for 2017, but he knows he could be dealt anytime.
“I have never been in this situation before,” Robertson said. “Obviously I play to win. Nothing says we can’t do that with this great group of guys. I know the front office has said this is a rebuilding year. I don’t know what will happen to me in the process. I will just get ready to play. I will try to help these younger guys along and lead by example. Hopefully if I stay here, I can be a part of a winning team. If I get moved, I still prepare the same way and stay ready to pitch.”
“The tough part is always the family angle. We are always moving our family from point to point. If we are going to move, I would prefer it’s sooner than later. I am a baseball player, so I am prepared for what happens. I can’t worry about a trade. I can only control what I control. This is a business. People have to make tough decisions all of the time. I don’t make them, so that is up to the baseball people. It’s out of my hands.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.