The question is: Will David Robertson receive "Papelbon money" from the Yankees?
The expectation is that Robertson's free-agent contract will at least be in the neighborhood of Jonathan Papelbon's four-year, $50 million contract, the highest ever for a closer.
Four MLB officials, surveyed by ESPN New York, think the 29-year-old Robertson will likely receive the years and at least come close to the money.
"I think he is going to get his money," an NL executive said.
"My first impression would be no, but the way the market is, yes," an AL executive said.
"I could see him getting four years and $40 million," an NL executive said.
"I could see four years and $40 million," an AL scout said. "It could be higher because, remember, it only takes one guy."
The Yankees must decide if they are the one guy. Should they Spend Hal's Money on Robertson?
They like Robertson, but Brian Cashman has never been a fan of big-money relievers, except for Mariano Rivera. There is a lot of historical data that says relievers are inconsistent and flame out early. Many scouts like Robertson's delivery and think he will be productive going forward.
"I think you will get good return on the dollar," said the AL executive, who was at first hesitant about whether Robertson will receive Papelbon money.
It is worth something on the market that Robertson replaced Rivera so smoothly and did so in the Bronx. The thinking is that since he could handle being the Yankees' closer after Mo, a big-money free-agent contract won't phase him. So maybe the Washington Nationals or Detroit Tigers believe Robertson is their missing piece.
The Yankees know they would probably be worse without Robertson in 2015. Teaming him with Dellin Betances would give the Yankees the beginnings of an excellent pen.
Without Robertson, Betances likely becomes the closer, while the Yankees could sign Andrew Miller, who hasn't closed but could be paid like one, and deservedly so.
A year ago, the Yankees let Robinson Cano go over money and years. Now, it appears, they're going to stare at the same situation with Robertson. It could signal a new direction in free agency, though the folks we spoke to don't believe the Yankees are ultimately going to change their pinstripes.
"When has money been a problem for the Yankees?" an NL evaluator said. "When has a budget been a problem for the Yankees? That's why they are the Yankees."
If Hal Steinbrenner wants to have some semblance of a budget -- which he clearly desires -- these are the types of questions he and his front office must decide. Are the Yankees thinking about their business differently, or will they do business the same as they have always done? In other words, if they want a guy, will they be the highest bidder?