Last night it was reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates spoke with the San Diego Padres regarding their bullpen. Apparently, the team was targeting a specific reliever.
Before the Pittsburgh Pirates made the late night trade for Texas Ranger closer Keone Kela, the team also looked into the San Diego Padres’ bullpen. At the time many speculated that the team was looking at Craig Stammen, who Rob Biertempfel suggested. The writer from The Athletic mentioned that the Pittsburgh Pirates had interest in Stammen in the past.
However, it has now been reported who exactly the Pittsburgh Pirates were targeting from the Padres. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and MLB Network tweeted that the Pittsburgh Pirates were actually looking at current Padres closer, Kirby Yates. Yates was the team’s setup man before the team dealt former closer Brad Hand to the Cleveland Indians. Rosenthal tweeted this earlier this afternoon:
"Source: #Pirates were talking to #Padres about Yates before they made trade for #Rangers’ Kela."
Obviously, this is unlikely now that the team has acquired Kela. The Pittsburgh Pirates really were only short one effective reliever with guys like Crick, Santana, and Richard Rodriguez excelling. Still, it is interesting to see that they were in on other back of the bullpen type arms.
For what it is worth, Yates is having one of the best seasons in the Major Leagues this year. He has a 1.52 earned run average and has struck out 52 in just 41.1 innings. One thing with Yates is that he is much older than Kela, being 31 years of age. However, he is under team control over the same length not being a free agent until after the 2020 season.
The biggest positive to take with getting Kela versus Yates is the taxing on their arms. Kela is only 25 and has thrown a lot fewer innings. Between the minors and majors, Kela has only thrown 279 total innings. Meanwhile, Yates was drafted back in 2005 and has thrown 563 total innings between the minors and majors. There is a lot less wear on Kela’s arm than Yates’.
If anything, the Pittsburgh Pirates may have just been doing their due diligence on other options. It was being reported that the Pittsburgh Pirates wanted Kela for nearly a week. They may have checked in on Yates just to see if he would come significantly cheaper or even to just push pressure on the Texas Rangers to be more motivated to get a deal done. Either way, the Pirates are likely done adding to the back end of their bullpen.