Blue Jays finalize agreement 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 – The Toronto Blue Jays are closing in on a significant addition for a bullpen in need of reinforcements.

Kirby Yates, who was at the team’s training facility in Dunedin, Fla. Tuesday, is now in agreement with the Blue Jays, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. While the Blue Jays have not confirmed that an agreement is in place, sources tell Sportsnet that the contract is for one year with $5.5 million in guaranteed salary and $4.5 million in performance bonuses.

Considering that Yates underwent surgery in August to remove bone chips from his pitching elbow, a physical may have been 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, for instance, 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.

Also in the Blue Jays’ projected bullpen are Jordan Romano, Rafael Dolis, A.J. Cole, Ryan Borucki and Shun Yamaguchi. While Anthony Kay, Julian Merryweather and Thomas Hatch contributed in relief this past season, they’re likely to be stretched out as starting pitchers in 2021.

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 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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