Relief pitcher Kirby Yates has signed a two-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. Terms of the deal include $8.25 million in guaranteed money along with a $5.75 million option for a third year. A buyout of $1.25 million is packaged with this option. Yates, along with fellow signee Manny Pina, has agreed to donate 1% of his yearly earnings to the Atlanta Braves Foundation. The signing comes off the heels of a season in which the Braves’ bullpen did not blossom until later in the year. While relatively dominant throughout the postseason, it did show some rough patches throughout much of the regular season. Signing Yates could be one of the keys to bringing the relief corps over the top.
Kirby Yates: A Career Spotlight
Kirby Yates began his professional career with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox four years prior, but did not sign with them. After posting excellent numbers over five and a half seasons, he was called up to the big leagues in 2014. His first foray into the majors went well, however the ensuing year was troublesome. He was purchased by the then Cleveland Indians before being purchased by the New York Yankees a few months later. His time in the Bronx also fell short, and the Yankees placed him on waivers. He was picked up in October of 2016 by the Los Angeles Angels. After appearing in one game, he was put on waivers yet again. This time, the San Diego Padres picked him up.
This was when Yates found his dominance. In his first full year as a Padre (2018), he posted a 2.14 ERA and a 180 ERA+. However, 2019 was stellar, as he notched an All-Star bid and finished in the top ten of Cy Young Award voting. He saved a league leading 41 contests for the Friars and only gave up two home runs all year. His ERA was 1.19 and his ERA+ was a mind boggling 354. Unfortunately, the injury bug came for him in 2020 and, after just six appearances, he was shut down. Surgery was performed on his elbow and he became a free agent, receiving a new contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. Once more, Lady Luck dealt a bad hand and he went through Tommy John surgery, missing the entirety of the 2021 season.
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