Kirby Yates Officially Joins Rangers

Kirby Yates
(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers‘ signing of right-hander Kirby Yates is now official. The Rangers and Yates agreed to terms on a one-year contract at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this week. The deal is for $4.5 million. Kirby Yates will join a team that won their first World Series title. Their bullpen finished 24th in the majors in bullpen ERA (4.77) in the regular season in 2023. With that said, the Rangers seem to be making the bullpen one of their top priorities this offseason. The signing of Yates is a good start. After the signing became official, the 36-year old right-hander met with members of the media via Zoom on Friday afternoon.

Kirby Yates Media Session

The first question Yates took was what attracted him to signing with the Rangers. He said, “I think a proximity to home, but on the other hand I’ve heard great things about this organization. They’re going to be competitive for years to come. Everything that I’ve heard about the organization has been top-notch. You also get a chance to go out and compete for a World Series title every year. I also get to play with some of my old teammates in Marcus Semien and Nathan Eovaldi, so I am very excited for that. As a player, I don’t think it gets more attractive than that.”

He was also asked what led to his comeback season in 2023. He replied by saying “I felt good. More than anything, I just told myself that I had to do my best. At the beginning of last year, I was asking myself what would become of my career next year if I did perform well this year. Obviously I wanted to help the Braves win as best I could, but there were personal reasons for the turnaround as well. I needed to stay healthy so I could check that box of still being able to pitch a major league season.” Yates also explained that he is motivated for the 2024 season as well. “I expect to be even better in 2024. Once again, I’m going to do my best to stay off the injured list. I really was to help these guys win.

Coming Off a Nice Season

Kirby Yates posted a 7–2 record with five saves. He posted a 3.28 ERA over 61 relief appearances with the Atlanta Braves last season. He ranked among National League relief leaders in opponent batting average (6th, .167), wins (8th), and strikeouts per 9 innings (11th, 11.93).  The nine-year veteran has pitched exclusively in relief at the major league level. He has a lifetime record of 19-19 with 62 saves, a 3.53 ERA, and 486 strikeouts in 361 appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays (2014-15), New York Yankees (2016), Los Angeles Angels (2017), San Diego Padres (2017-20), and the Braves (2022-23). Additionally, he spent the 2021 season with the Toronto Blue Jays but did not play due to injury. Yates was teammates with Eovaldi while with the Yankees and Semien while with the Blue Jays.

Kirby Yates will be a welcome addition to the Rangers’ bullpen. Right-hander Chris Stratton and lefties Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith are all free agents, but the majority of relievers the Rangers used in 2023 are returning. Rangers manager Bruce Bochy said he is confident in both José Leclerc and Josh Sborz at the back end of the bullpen going into 2024, but Yates gives the club another right-handed option that can fill various roles.

 

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Nate Miller

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