Updates on Kirby Yates and the MLB Relief Pitching Market

The Los Angeles Dodgers have spent this offseason fortifying their bullpen, acquiring guys like Corey Knebel, Tommy Kahnle, and Garrett Cleavinger, while also re-signing Blake Treinen and Scott Alexander.

Pedro Baez signed with the Houston Astros a couple of days ago as well. That is yet another realization that the bullpen will look a bit different this year compared to last year.

With Liam Hendriks signing with the Chicago White Sox, the bullpen market is starting to fall into place, and the next dominoes to drop will presumably be guys like Brad Hand and Kirby Yates.

It is not clear if Hand is close to agreeing to terms with a team, but if recent reporting is accurate, Yates appears to be close to choosing a destination.

A crucial detail amongst this buzz is that as things currently stand, it seems unlikely that Yates will be returning to the San Diego Padres.

Kevin Acee of the San Diego-Union Tribune reports that Yates is in the final stages of choosing between five teams, and the Padres are not one of them. The offer the Padres gave him doesn’t seem to match up with other offers he received around the league.

That’s a key development because it evokes speculation of whether the Padres offer was relatively underwhelming compared to other teams based on length, AAV, or both.

Acee has previously reported that Yates was looking for a deal worth over $5 million in guaranteed money, plus performance incentives.

That figure matches what MLB Trade Rumors projected Yates would ultimately be signed for, as the site predicted Yates would get a one-year, $5 million contract.

Given that the Padres have seemingly come up short compared to what other teams are offering, it’ll be interesting to learn if any team is going multiple years for Yates.

When healthy, Yates is one of the most dominant relief pitchers in all of baseball. His low market value is purely the result of undergoing elbow surgery last August.

I’ve previously written about how Yates has better stats than Hendriks in his most recent seasons not interrupted by injury.

Hendriks used his stellar 2019 and 2020 seasons to secure a three-year deal with the White Sox for $54 million.

Yates had a lower combined ERA in his 2018 and 2019 seasons than Hendriks accumulated in his 2019 and 2020 seasons. Over those same spans, Yates had just a slightly higher WHIP than Hendriks, and more strikeouts per nine innings.

Yates is two years older than Hendriks, but it’s fair to wonder what type of deal Yates would have gotten this offseason if not for that surgery.

Hendriks got $18 million AAV. The current market projections for Yates seem like an absolute steal for the team that eventually acquires him.

He might not ultimately be the same guy post-surgery, but the upside involved in getting Yates at around $5 million AAV, even if it’s for more than one year, is enticing.

The context clues found within recent reports indicate that the Dodgers are currently one of those five finalists to acquire Yates.

John Heyman of MLB Network reports that the Dodgers are still interested in adding bullpen pieces, and Yates is one of the possibilities.

The final contract figures that Yates signs for will be a fascinating revelation from what’s been a unique free agency period.

It’s also important to note in all this that MLB Trade Rumors projected Hendriks at three years for $30 million and that AAV projection was off, so the final Yates figures could be higher than projected as well.

The Hendriks deal was for much more AAV than expected. The Padres offer to Yates is also reportedly falling short of what other teams are offering. Those two developments reveal that Yates has a good chance of ending up with more than that one-year, $5 million contract projection.

Examining Reliever Market During Time of Sadness for Dodgers Family

(Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

It has been a profoundly sad week for the Los Angeles Dodgers family and the entire baseball world. The passings of Tommy Lasorda and Sandra Scully have left everyone with heavy hearts and prompted solemn reflection.

Continue reading “Examining Reliever Market During Time of Sadness for Dodgers Family”