TORONTO — The Blue Jays are targeting right-hander Kirby Yates as their next high-upside bullpen addition, a source told MLB.com.
The interest was first reported by TSN’s Scott Mitchell, who added that Yates was in Dunedin, Fla., on Tuesday to meet with the Blue Jays. The meeting nor Toronto’s interest
TORONTO — The Blue Jays are targeting right-hander
The interest was first reported by TSN’s Scott Mitchell, who added that Yates was in Dunedin, Fla., on Tuesday to meet with the Blue Jays. The meeting nor Toronto’s interest has not been confirmed by the club.
This comes one day after the Blue Jays agreed to a one-year deal with right-hander
Yates is one of the market’s most intriguing relievers after his elite 2019 season, when he posted a 1.19 ERA with 41 saves while striking out 15 batters per nine innings. Free agency came a year too late for Yates, unfortunately, as he struggled in ’20, allowing six runs over just 4 1/3 innings before undergoing surgery to address bone chips in the back of his right elbow.
Given the club’s available payroll, this is exactly the type of upside gamble they should be making.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) January 19, 2021
When healthy, Yates possesses a brilliant splitter with a four-seam fastball that averaged 93.5 mph in his 2019 season, according to Statcast. Yates was also excellent the season prior, posting a 2.14 ERA in 65 games for the Padres.
Set to turn 34 before Opening Day, Yates would be looking at a clear path to closing games for the Blue Jays, who lost former closer Ken Giles in 2020 to injury and, eventually, Tommy John surgery. Manager Charlie Montoyo filled that role with a combination of Jordan Romano, Rafael Dolis, Anthony Bass and A.J. Cole.
While Romano, Dolis and Cole are all returning in 2021, the addition of Yates would allow Montoyo to use some of these pieces more aggressively in earlier innings, something done successfully at times in ’20. That group profiled much differently than many past Blue Jays bullpens, too, with multiple high-velocity arms and impressive strikeout numbers. That’s an area where Toronto has trailed behind the rest of baseball in recent years.
Prior to his four seasons with the Padres and a brief stop with the Angels, Yates got to know the American League East well as a member of the Yankees (2016) and Rays (2014-15).