World Series Champion Braves pick up former All-Star, Kauai’s Kirby Yates for bullpen

Sports

Kirby Yates

The Atlanta Braves bolstered their World Series-winning bullpen Monday by signing right-hander Kirby Yates to a two-year, $8.25 million deal.

Yates led the majors with 41 saves for the San Diego Padres in 2019. He didn’t pitch this past season for the Toronto Blue Jays because of undergoing his second Tommy John surgery of his career on March 24.

Yates will make $1 million next season, and his salary bumps to $6 million in 2023. The deal also includes a $5.75 million club option for 2024 that comes with a $1.25 million buyout.

The 34-year-old Yates was an All-Star and finished ninth in the NL Cy Young voting in 2019, when he posted a 1.19 ERA with 101 strikeouts in 60 games.

He pitched only six games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, posting a 12.46 ERA before being shelved with an ailing arm. He signed with the Blue Jays but never pitched for Toronto because of the elbow procedure.

Yates has also pitched with Tampa Bay, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angeles over his seven-year big-league career.

Yates joins a highly effective bullpen that was a big reason for the Braves″ surprising run to a championship. Closer Will Smith returns, along with Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter and Luke Jackson.

The Braves also announced that right-hander Yoan López was claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies. Lopez was acquired last May from Arizona but spent the rest of the season at Atlanta’s Triple-A club in Gwinnett.

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