On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals signed left-handed pitcher Nate Robertson to a minor league contract and assigned him to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. The 32-year-old began the season with the Florida Marlins, but was designated for assignment and when he was not claimed on waivers, was then released on July 27.
With the Fish, Robertson went 6-8 with a 5.47 ERA over 18 starts and one relief appearance this season. He had been dealt by Detroit to Florida on March 30 for reliever Jay Voss. As part of the deal, the Tigers agreed to pay Robertson’s entire $10 million salary for 2010 above the major league minimum of $400,000.
The Mariners originally selected Robertson in the fifth round of the 1999 draft out of Wichita State. After a brief MLB debut with Florida in 2002, he was dealt to Detroit in the Mark Redman trade in 2003. Robertson was a mainstay of the Tigers rotation from 2004 through 2008, but struggled with injury and ineffectiveness in 2009.
Robertson began last season in the bullpen, then hit the disabled list in May with a sore back. He then underwent June surgery and was out until August as four masses were removed from his elbow that were restricting a nerve.
Robertson returned to the rotation, but suffered from a groin injury late last season and had November surgery to repair the torn muscle. He is in the final year of a three-year, $21.5 million contract signed with Detroit prior to the 2008 campaign.
Cardinals fans may remember Robertson as he helped Detroit to a sweep of Oakland in the 2006 A.L. Championship Series with five scoreless innings in Game 1 and opposed the Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2006 World Series, taking the loss after allowing two runs in his five innings pitched.
Robertson owns a career mark of 57-77 with a 4.97 ERA in 221 games (187 starts) with Florida and Detroit. His 178 games started and 1,098 1/3 innings pitched rank 10th among all left-handers dating to 2004. He is the second ex-member of the 2010 Marlins now with Memphis, joining lefty reliever Renyel Pinto, released by the Fish in June. Robertson's Triple-A stay may be relatively short as he has an opt-out provision in his contract if not promoted to St. Louis by August 23, reports the Post-Dispatch.
Robertson, a native of Wichita, KS, is also a part owner of the Wichita Wingnuts of the independent American Association.
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