David Robertson’s woes a worry for Yankees

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With Rafael Soriano and left fielder Ichiro Suzuki combining to bail him out of an eighth-inning jam, David Robertson didn’t take his fourth loss in his last 10 appearances today in the first game of a doubleheader against the Blue Jays.  He came pretty close, though.

Robertson gave up hits to four of the six batters he faced and allowed two runs while getting two outs today. His struggles forced the Yankees to bring in their closer in the eighth, something they certainly didn’t want to do in the first of two games on the day.

Now they’ll enter the second game versus Toronto with their closer having already thrown 23 pitches today and the setup man 26, making one wonder how they might deal with a late lead should one arise.

Robertson, who is 1-7 on the year, has allowed seven runs in nine innings this month. On the plus side, it’s not due to walks, which were an early career problem for him. In fact, he has an 11/0 K/BB ratio in September. He also has a fine 2.98 ERA for the season. He is getting hit, though. He’s given up five homers and 50 hits in 54 1/3 innings this season. Last year, he allowed one homer and 40 hits in 66 2/3 innings.

Yankees pitchers are pretty much conditioned to go seven innings a start. In fact, Yankees starters have recorded a total of one out after the seventh inning this month (Phil Hughes went 7 1/3 innings against Boston last week). Robertson is going to be a very important piece in any deep run into the postseason. Nothing in the way he’s throwing suggests that he can’t bounce back, but if he doesn’t, the Bombers are going to have problems.

Report: Qualifying offer to be in the $18 million range

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, teams have been told that the qualifying offer to free agents this offseason will be in the $18 million range, likely $18.1 million. The value is derived by taking the average of the top 125 player salaries.

At $18.1 million, that would be $900,000 more than the previous QO, which was $17.2 million. This will impact soon-to-be free agents like Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Yu Darvish, among others. That also assumes that the aforementioned players aren’t traded, which would make them ineligible to receive qualifying offers. We’ve seen, increasingly, that teams aren’t willing to make a QO to an impending free agent and that trend is likely to continue this offseason.

The QO system was modified by the newest collective bargaining agreement. The compensatory pick for a team losing a player who declined a QO used to be a first-round pick. That was a penalty to both teams and players, which is why it was changed. Via MLB’s website pertaining to the QO:

A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool. If such a team signs multiple qualifying offer free agents, it will forfeit its third- and sixth-highest remaining picks as well.

A team that receives revenue sharing will lose its third-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick.

A team that neither exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season nor receives revenue sharing will lose its second-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick.

Additionally, if a player who rejected a QO signs a guaranteed contract worth at least $50 million and came from a team that receives revenue sharing, that previous team will receive a compensatory pick immediately following the first round in the ensuing draft. If the contract is less than $50 million, that team will get a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B. If the player’s team is over the luxury tax threshold, that team will receive a compensation pick following the fourth round. If that team neither exceeded the luxury tax nor receives revenue sharing, the compensation pick will come after Competitive Balance Round B.

Yeah, it’s a bit convoluted, but you do the best you can with a flawed system.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.