The rumors started circulating early Tuesday morning that the Blue Jays were on the verge of signing veteran reliever Kirby Yates, and around 5:30 PM EST Ken Rosenthal tweeted out that Toronto indeed had finalized a deal with former closer.
While it has been mostly swinging and missing on bringing in key free agents to the Blue Jays organization this offseason, the signing of Yates should help the back end of the bullpen and some satisfaction to fans. Yates went from being a waiver claim by the San Diego Padres in 2017 to being one of, if not the best relief pitcher in all of Major League baseball in 2019.
Yates had an All-Star season that saw him lead the National League in saves (41) while posting a 1.19 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He can be a dominant strike out pitcher as he has averaged nearly 13 strikeouts per nine innings over his career and thanks to his time in San Diego where it was 14.0/9 over 183.2 innings in relief.
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Yates is coming off surgery that ended his 2020 season after just six appearances and 4.1 innings pitched. However, as Scott Mitchell of TSN reported earlier in the day, he was in Dunedin for a physical and it is now believed to have gone well.
The soon to be 34-year old pitcher will be in direct competition for the closer’s role with the Blue Jays against Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano, as Ken Giles was lost for the entirety of the 2021 season. Yates is a two-pitch hurler that when he was healthy threw a 94 mph fastball and an 86 mph splitter.
Yates was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 26th round out of high school in 2005, however, never signed and went un-drafted out of College. He was later signed and came up through the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and will now be joining his fifth major league club.
While many fans won’t be satisfied with just this signing, it something that will help the club build towards a post season run.