If the regular season began tomorrow, the Dodgers would have one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. They return almost their entire staff from last season and have made some really good additions over the last few months.
However, they still have a chance to get even better.
A little over a week ago, the LA Times reported that the Dodgers had significant interest in Kirby Yates, the former Padres closer. Yesterday, it was reported that Yates is in the final stages of considering offers from five teams, with his former club not being one of them.
In December, Yates was reportedly “likely looking at” an incentive-laden deal with a guarantee upwards of $5 million. Ah, incentives you say? Somewhere, Andrew Friedman is sitting back in his chair with an evil grin on his face. At least, I’d like to think so.
Yates was fantastic for the Padres in 2018 and 2019. He appeared in a total of 125 games and had 52 saves while posting a 1.67 ERA, 1.93 FIP and 0.90 WHIP. Yeah, those are some pretty damn good numbers. Not to mention, as our buddy Dustin wrote, his splitter is one of the best in the game.
But, what have you done for me lately? He appeared in just six games in 2020 while posting an ERA of 12.46 before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. Yates will be 34 this season and will be coming off some pretty big surgery.
And the Dodgers should do whatever they can to possibly sign him.
Unlike Liam Hendriks, this is a solid bullpen arm who isn’t looking for a big multi-year contract. He wants a one-year deal, and a pretty cheap one at that, especially depending on the incentive part of the contract.
If healthy, Yates has the potential to return to his old All-Star form, which could be a massive steal for the Dodgers, especially at this price. It’s no secret what the Dodgers have been doing this offseason. They re-signed Blake Treinen, who has experience as a closer. They acquired Corey Knebel from the Brewers, who had 55 saves over a two-year stretch. LA also brought in Tommy Kahnle, who doesn’t have experience as a closer, but has plenty of experience in high-leverage situations.
With Kenley Jansen as a question mark entering the 2021 season, it appears the Dodgers want as many insurance options as possible, should they need to look in a different direction for someone to close games in the ninth.
Since we don’t know the five teams Yates has narrowed his decision down to, this whole article might be irrelevant. But like I said, the Dodgers are the only team that we know of who have expressed interest. We know that the Padres are likely out and it looks like the Blue Jays are out as well.
There’s a chance the risk doesn’t pay off with Yates, and that would be okay. He’d be gone in a year. However, if Yates could replicate what he did in San Diego, the Dodgers would have arguably the most dominant bullpen in all of baseball.