Red Sox Rumors: Active interest in Padres closer Kirby Yates
By Sean Penney
The Boston Red Sox have reportedly shown interest in trading for San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates before the deadline.
The Boston Red Sox may not be done upgrading their pitching staff before the trade deadline. While the return of Nathan Eovaldi gives the bullpen a boost, Dave Dombrowski has his eyes set on a proven option to fill the closer role.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Red Sox have shown “active interest” in San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates.
Yates would provide the type of lights-out option to lock down the ninth inning that the Red Sox have lacked since letting Craig Kimbrel walk in free agency last winter. The right-hander has been phenomenal this season with a 1.05 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 14.7 K/9. Yates leads the majors in saves and has converted 31 of 33 opportunities.
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Adding to his appeal is that Yates remains under control for 2020 when he’ll enter his final year of arbitration. The extra year of control protects against the nightmare scenario of surrendering a package of prospects only to still miss out on the postseason and watch their deadline acquisition bolt in free agency a few months later. The Red Sox are hesitant to give up valuable assets for a rental but trading for Yates now saves them from shelling out a lucrative deal for a closer in free agency.
Whether or not the Padres will make Yates available at the deadline remains to be seen. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that San Diego is “trying to be aggressive” on the starting pitching market. The last-place Padres aren’t exactly loading up for a postseason push so their interest in upgrading their pitching staff is with an eye toward the future. In that case, they may prefer to keep Yates around if they plan to contend next season with a revamped rotation and growth from their young players.
Feinsand also indicated that the asking price for relievers remains “ridiculously high.” That’s rumored to be the case even for rental relievers, so you can imagine the price for an All-Star closer locked up for next season must be significantly higher. That may not be a price the Red Sox can afford.
The cost may decline to more realistic levels when we reach the July 31 deadline and it works in Boston’s favor if the top options on the market remain available until then. The Red Sox currently sit 11 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and three games out of a Wild Card spot. Their focus could shift from buyers to sellers by the deadline. This upcoming stretch against the Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees will dictate how they approach the deadline.
Yates is the best reliever who is potentially available on the trade market so it’s no surprise that the Red Sox are monitoring him. There will be plenty of competition if the Padres decide to deal him though. With few desirable chips left in their farm system, winning the Yates sweepstakes would seem to be a longshot.