Blue Jays reliever Kirby Yates likely needs Tommy John surgery, as GM Ross Atkins told reporters (including Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi) on Tuesday:
Lots of #BlueJays news this afternoon, starting with GM Ross Atkins saying Kirby Yates “most likely” headed for Tommy John surgery. Atkins said team knew it was a high-risk, high-reward play when they signed him.— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) March 23, 2021
The Blue Jays signed Yates to a one-year, $5.5 million deal in January, betting that the 33-year-old former All-Star would be able to bounce back after being limited to six games in 2020 due to right elbow inflammation. Now that elbow will need to be surgically repaired, and Toronto almost certainly will need to sign Yates to another contract if he’s ever going to pitch in a Blue Jays uniform.
Yates was somewhat of a late bloomer but thrived after joining the Padres during the 2017 season, most notably in 2019, when he posted a 1.19 ERA and 0.89 WHIP over 60 games and led the majors with 41 saves. But his stats suffered as he pitched through an injury during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He threw for a 12.46 ERA and a 2.54 WHIP while recording just 13 outs over six appearances.
Jordan Romano, who had a stellar 1.23 ERA over 15 relief appearances last season, appears to be the most likely candidate to fill the closer’s role in Yates’ absence.