San Diego Padres should bring Kirby Yates back for one more year

SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 3: Kirby Yates #39 of the San Diego Padres is congratulated by Austin Hedges #18 of the San Diego Padres during a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park August 3, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 3: Kirby Yates #39 of the San Diego Padres is congratulated by Austin Hedges #18 of the San Diego Padres during a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park August 3, 2020 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images) /
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The San Diego Padres are like every other team – looking to improve their bullpen. Bringing back Kirby Yates would be a step in that direction.

It seems like every offseason; major league baseball teams are looking for ways to improve their bullpen. Usually, last season’s results won’t deter their pursuit to bolster the backend of the pitching staff. Most teams look to buy low on the open market, which is why Kirby Yates is one of the top free agent bargains available. In the spirit of giving, the San Diego Padres should bring him back for another season.

Addition of Yates Adds Length to Padres Pen

The Padres aren’t set at the closer position for the 2021 season, but the hope is that free agent Trevor Rosenthal will come back to San Diego. The addition of Yates does lengthen the pen by providing another weapon to close out games.

If healthy, he knows how to limit contact with runners in scoring position. It will hard for a trailing team to stage a comeback against Yates, Drew Pomeranz, and Rosenthal in the final three innings of a contest. That is a power trio!!!

And if Rosenthal goes elsewhere, then Yates could be a viable option to become the Padres closer once again.

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Yates’ Rise to Prominence Began in San Diego

After making his major league debut with the Tampa Bay Rays, Yates bounced around (New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels) with several teams before bursting onto the scene as the closer for the Padres in 2018. The following season was his breakout (1.16 era with 101 Ks in 60.2 inns.) campaign as Yates lead the majors with 41 saves.

His rise to prominence coincided with him learning to throw a split-finger fastball for strikes. It became his “out” pitch that allowed him to become an accomplished closer. Yates is very good at keeping the ball inside Petco Park, striking out batters at an above average pace and limiting the amount of walks issued late in games.

Surprisingly, Yates had a very forgettable 2020 season (12.46 ERA in six appearances) as he never got on track. He was very erratic with his control. Then, his season ended abruptly with him having elbow surgery to remove bone chips.

Yates Must Prove Himself Again

Now, teams will have to determine the health of Yates’s right elbow before offering him a contract for 2021. It may come down to having a bullpen session in front of team executives who are interested in signing him. This will help Yates to prove that he will be ready to play by opening day.

Patience will be Yates’ biggest ally as recovering from elbow chips is a tricky proposition for pitchers. Mentally, you have to believe he will have a chip (no pun intended) on his shoulder all season long. The injury voided him any chance of securing a big money, multi-year free agent deal that would have set him financially for life.

Now, Yates must be resigned to the fact that he may receive only an one-year deal from a major league team. It’s a no risk situation for both sides. The team won’t have a huge financial commitment, while Yates is given an opportunity to show his value as a late-inning reliever following elbow surgery.

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You have to believe that Yates is just looking for a chance to pitch again.

The San Diego Padres need to take a chance on him.