Braves Add Big Piece To Bullpen

He's a former All-Star, and major league-leader in saves. But ex-closer Kirby Yates has missed essentially the last two full seasons due to an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery. Now, finally, he's ready to return to the Show.

The Braves signed the 35-year-old Yates to a 2-year, $8.25M deal this offseason, backloaded to pay him just $1M in 2022. 

In 2019, he recorded an MLB-best 41 saves for the San Diego Padres, with a 1.19 ERA. He appeared in just six games, however, in 2020, before suffering an elbow injury.

The Toronto Blue Jays went out on a limb in March 2021, signing him to a $5M deal, but Yates re-injured the elbow, leading to the TJ surgery.

On his just-completed rehab assignment, he posted a 1.08 ERA and 0.72 WHIP in 8.1 innings. 

His role in the Braves' bullpen, though, will likely not be as high-leverage/late-inning as he's been used to in the past. Atlanta already has two established closers in their 'pen, in Kenley Jansen and Raisel Iglesias. 

But if Yates can get back to anywhere close to his previous performance, teams are going to want to ensure that they have a lead on the Braves before they get to the 7th inning, or it's pretty much game-over.

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports