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David Robertson Signs With Phillies, Negotiates Contract Himself

Free agent pitcher David Robertson made headlines when he agreed to a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, for reasons other than the money. After firing his agent in October, Robertson negotiated the contract himself.

The deal guarantees Robertson $23 million. He’ll receive $21 million over the first two seasons and can receive another $12 million in a club-option third season or a $2 million-dollar buyout.

Robertson saved about $1.15 million by negotiating his own contract. The average agent commission in Major League Baseball is 5 percent.

Despite the savings, Robertson said he would probably hire an agent again for his next contact. “It was a great experience,” he told reporters on a conference call after his contract was official. “I don’t know if I would do it again, but I enjoyed the process.”

It’s very uncommon for an MLB player to negotiate his own contract. An MLB front office possesses much more intel than the average MLB player and having an agency back you, levels the playing field. While Robertson’s deal is good short term, an agent may have been able to get a longer-term contract with more guaranteed money.

Robertson, who turns 34 in April, will have more trouble negotiating future contracts as he ages late into his career. In 2014, Robertson signed a four-year, $46 million-dollar contract. While younger and coming off a better season, his new deal with the Phillies is very similar, just shorter-term. In his last contract, Robertson made $10 million in his first year, $11 million in his second year, $12 million the third year and $13 million in his final year. If he plays the next three seasons for the Phillies, he will receive the same amount of money he received in the first three years of his last contract.

Although relief pitchers are making more than they did four years ago, Robertson got a good deal considering he’s almost 34. Looking at other similar relief pitchers who signed deals this offseason, this is how Robertson compares:

Zach Britton (New York Yankees): Age 31. Three years, $39 million guaranteed. Fourth year club-option for $14 million must be exercised after second year, or Britton could void third year of contract.

Andrew Miller (St. Louis Cardinals): Age 33. Two years, $27.5 million guaranteed. $25 million over the first two seasons, then a $12 million vesting option for the third season (Option kicks in with 110 appearances in 2019 and 2020), or $2.5 million buyout option.

Joe Kelly (Los Angeles Dodgers): Age 30. Three years, $25 million guaranteed.

Jeurys Familia (New York Mets): Age 29. Three years, $30 million guaranteed.

As part of Robertson’s deal with the Phillies, he agreed to give 1% of his contract to charity.

What are your thoughts? Do you think he could have gotten a better deal with an agent?

By Josh Goldberg

Josh is a recent graduate of Florida International University's College of Law. He works at a law firm with the Franchise Law, Innovation & Technology, and Sports & Entertainment Law groups. He is the founder of Light Social Digital Media & Marketing - a content creation and branding agency for athletes.

Email: [email protected] | Twitter/Instagram: @IAmJoshGoldberg