MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Robertson not letting trade rumors bother him

White Sox closer focusing on Classic and 2017 season

Robertson not letting trade rumors bother him

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox closer David Robertson has been the subject of trade rumors all offseason, with the Nationals as the prime suspect.

All Robertson knows right now is that he's still in Chicago, while he's also getting ready to join Team USA in Fort Myers, Fla., next week for the beginning of the World Baseball Classic.

"Yeah, it seems like my name has bounced around a lot," Robertson told MLB.com on Wednesday morning at Camelback Ranch, hours before his club played the D-backs here in a Cactus League game. "But nothing's come to fruition. Nothing's happened yet. There's nothing I can do. I can't worry too much about it."

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Robertson has been one of the elite closers in the game since 2014 when he replaced the retired Mariano Rivera at the back end of the bullpen for the Yankees. He saved 39 games in '14, earning a four-year, $46 million free-agent contract with the White Sox through the '18 season. Robertson has saved 34 and 37 games in his two Chicago seasons.

The White Sox have been downsizing their player payroll since last season, but thus far they haven't found the right match for Robertson. And that's just fine with him.

"Hey, I like it here," Robertson said. "If I get to stay, great. It's just not my decision to make it. That's on the organization and with what they want to do."

Well, yes and no. Robertson has limited no-trade protection in his contract and can reject a deal to five teams: the Tigers, Mets, Dodgers, A's and Phillies.

That leaves 24 other clubs. The Nationals have made the most effort in their attempt to replace Mark Melancon, whom they acquired from the Pirates last July 30. But Melancon left Washington and signed a four-year, $62 million free-agent contract with the Giants on Dec. 5 that includes an opt-out after the 2018 season.

The Nats are one of the top teams in the National League, but they are in camp with right-hander Shawn Kelley and veteran lefty Oliver Perez as the only solutions right now at the back end of their bullpen.

After Melancon left, the Nationals tried signing Aroldis Chapman, but he went back to the Yankees for five years at $86 million. Ever since then, Nats GM Mike Rizzo has been trying to snare Robertson, who's trying to block it all out as he prepares for the season and the Classic.

Robertson said the rumors come quickly and from many different sources, not necessarily the White Sox.

"I feel like you guys [reporters] find out about it as quickly as I do," he said. "Now, especially with social media. That's just the way it is. I mean, that's literally just the way it is.

"I'm just getting ready to pitch and the World Baseball Classic. I'm excited about that. I'll go there, represent our country and see if we can play good baseball. And then I'll just come back and get ready for the season."

Robertson joins a potent Team USA bullpen that also includes Andrew Miller, Tyler Clippard and Luke Gregerson. Like Robertson, Miller, now with the Indians, is an ex-Yankee. Clippard is expected to fill the seventh-inning role in New York this year, with Chapman in the ninth and Dellin Betances in the eighth.

The U.S. team is slated to gather at the Red Sox's spring camp in Fort Myers on Sunday, and play exhibition games March 8 against the Twins and March 9 against the Red Sox before heading to Miami to open Pool C play in a tough bracket that includes the defending champion Dominican Republic, Canada and Colombia.

The U.S. plays its first game at Marlins Park on March 10 against Colombia.

Robertson said his flight itinerary has him leaving the Phoenix area Monday, a day later than the actual reporting date.

"I've got things to do here and that's when my flight is," Robertson said. "It's just like the regular season. You get in at midnight, turn around and get ready to play the next day."

Robertson will leave here as a member of the White Sox, he thinks. That's pending any moves. Stay tuned. He certainly is.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.