The Dodgers should sign Kirby Yates and finish their bullpen project.
Once again, the Los Angeles Dodgers have found a way to have the best offseason approach of any team, which is why they’re the best in the business. Though their infield situation still needs to be addressed, they managed to go bargain hunting in the most effective way possible to patch up their other roster concern: the bullpen.
The additions of Blake Treinen (re-signed), Corey Knebel, Brandon Morrow and Tommy Kahnle were brilliant in preparing the team for 2021 and beyond. Bringing back a stable force like Treinen was important, but adding cost-effective arms who are currently a bit down on their luck in Knebel, Morrow and Kahnle were brilliant strokes.
How about one more of those? Though the Dodgers missed out on Liam Hendriks, who signed a four-year deal with the Chicago White Sox, they can complete their bullpen overhaul by signing former San Diego Padres reliever Kirby Yates.
The Dodgers didn’t need to spend $13 million per year on another reliever, especially if half of these guys end up working out in 2021. They need to save that money for a Justin Turner reunion or a DJ LeMahieu signing. Typically, this kind of bullpen patchwork doesn’t get the job done, but LA has hit all the right buttons with these guys, and Yates is the final piece.
In 2018 and 2019, Yates was one of the best relievers in the league, leading the way with 41 saves in ’19. However, his shortened 2020 was derailed due to elbow issues, for which he underwent a relatively minor surgical procedure (it was only a six-week recovery period). He was tattooed in the six appearances that he made.
Unfortunately for the right-hander, all of this couldn’t have come at a worse time. However, he could find himself in a favorable position with the Dodgers, and based on the money they’ve given Morrow and Kahnle, we doubt Yates would get gipped in the negotiations.
The Dodgers and manager Dave Roberts love to use their relievers in various roles, which makes Yates such a seamless fit. Perhaps he rediscovers his form as a shutdown closer, but if not, he’d be appropriately utilized in the middle innings and likely still find himself in high-leverage spots.
Maybe LA is still intrigued by Brad Hand, but Yates could be had for multiple years at a cheaper price with similar upside. Or, you know, they could just add both of them. Never count that scenario out with Andrew Friedman running the show.