Blue Jays in serious talks with reliever Kirby Yates

San Diego Padres relief pitcher Kirby Yates reacts after striking out Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman during the ninth inning of a baseball game Saturday, July 13, 2019, in San Diego. (Gregory Bull / AP)

TORONTO – After months of relative inactivity, the Toronto Blue Jays’ off-season appears to be picking up considerable momentum with reliever Kirby Yates emerging as the team’s latest target.

As reported here over the weekend, the Blue Jays have serious interest in Yates, a 33-year-old right-hander. He’s expected to be at the Blue Jays’ complex in Dunedin, Fla., Tuesday, as first reported by TSN’s Scott Mitchell. Jon Heyman of MLB Network says the sides are close to a deal.

Considering that Yates underwent surgery in August to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow, a physical may be a necessary step to completing a deal.

When healthy, Yates has been among the game's best relievers. As a member of the 2019 Padres, he posted a 1.19 ERA with a league-leading 41 saves on his way to an all-star selection and Cy Young votes. In 60.2 innings that year, he walked only 13 while striking out 101.

Clearly, that kind of arm would be a welcome addition to a Blue Jays bullpen that lost Anthony Bass and Ken Giles to free agency. On Monday, the Blue Jays agreed to terms with Tyler Chatwood, who could also factor into the bullpen mix for manager Charlie Montoyo.

Beyond the pitching staff, the Blue Jays are also pushing for George Springer, believed to be their top off-season target.

The Blue Jays’ 40-man roster now includes one empty spot, which means one more player will have to be removed if Yates eventually joins Chatwood on the team.

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