There has been no shortage of interest this summer in Padres closer Kirby Yates, one of baseball’s top trade chips. It doesn’t appear the Padres are going to move Yates by Wednesday’s deadline, though, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The team instead hopes to extend Yates, who’s in his penultimate year of club control.
Yates has unexpectedly turned into a core Padre and one of the elite relievers in baseball since they claimed him off waivers from the Angels in April 2017. At that point, the right-hander owned a 5.38 ERA across 98 2/3 innings divided among the Rays, Yankees and Angels. With help from the splitter he added to his repertoire upon joining the Padres, Yates has pitched to a stellar 2.38 ERA/2.47 FIP with 13.78 K/9, 2.49 BB/9 and 44 saves on 50 chances over 162 2/3 innings in San Diego.
While Yates was tremendous a year ago, he has found yet another gear this season. Through 44 frames, Yates ranks first among qualified relievers in ERA (1.02) and FIP (1.07), second in K/BB ratio (8.00), third in xFIP (2.12), fourth in K/9 (14.73) and 20th in BB/9 (1.84). Hitters have recorded a matching and feckless .208 weighted on-base average/expected wOBA off Yates, who has converted 31 of 33 save opportunities.
The Padres are likely out of contention this season, Yates is set to play his age-33 campaign in 2020, and relievers are known for their volatility. Those are all arguments for the Padres to sell Yates when his value’s at its zenith, and the fact he’s earning a bargain salary ($3MM-plus) would make an impressive haul easier for them to land. But it looks as if the Padres, hoping to snap their lengthy playoff drought in 2020, will keep Yates and make an effort to reach a new deal with him.