Scott Mitchell: Kirby Yates bet exploded early on Blue Jays, but that doesn’t make it wrong

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Scott Mitchell: Kirby Yates bet exploded early on Blue Jays, but that doesn't make it wrong


TORONTO – Succession is the most volatile investment in baseball and the situation at Kirby Yates has provided a dose of reality in this department.

No matter how you viewed it, there was a risk to the Yates deal.

A 34-year-old who just had end-of-season elbow surgery is still a game on the rise on a one-year contract and that’s why he cost the Blue $ 5.5 million Toronto Jays instead of doubling that number and doubling the length.

Apart from that, there is also the inherent risk that any pitcher will take the mound. Any pitch can be the last. An arm injury is always a throw away. For everyone.

Yates’ bet worked about as poorly as anyone could have imagined for the Jays, as they only got two veteran’s Grapefruit League innings closer to the end, bypassing many more. free agency options for the lure of the hike.

Does this make it wrong? Not at all.

It was a deal that was applauded by just about everyone in January, so playing the role of Henry Hindsight and saying that targeting pitchers with questionable health histories is a front office fault would be wrong.

Sometimes these offers work, often not.

There was never any guarantee that he would find his 2019 form in the first place and the Jays knew it.

They also knew the risk. All.

They knew Yates had a free agent deal with another club, and they even made the extreme decision to get thrown by the right-hander in Dunedin before signing him.

They knew another setback could mean surgery and unfortunately it didn’t take long for that to materialize and the Jays threw $ 5.5 million down the drain as Yates ‘most likely’ takes Tommy John at some point soon.

“We knew it was a very high risk with a high potential for reward,” said GM Ross Atkins. “We feel really good about Kirby Yates in this environment, and that’s just part of it. One game didn’t work out for the Blue Jays this year.

Now the bullpen plan is bound to change with a week and a half until games start to count in the Bronx, but it’s not like it’s suddenly a weak group of relievers. .

He just doesn’t have the overall advantage he got with a vintage Yates that could potentially hold things back in the ninth round. This dream is dead.

The dream that isn’t dead is for Jordan Romano to build on his 2020 breakout campaign and become one of baseball’s baddest relievers, using his reserve pitch – the slider – and a speed of 97 mph to confuse hitters on both sides of the plate.

Then there’s a potentially solid trio of veterans in Rafael Dolis, Tyler Chatwood and David Phelps, who all need to be good – and stay healthy – for this to work.

Julian Merryweather, an arm that I have touted as a potential closer on numerous occasions, flies under the radar, but that’s because he just can’t stay healthy either, so it’s impossible to rely on him as something other than an arm with big time backwards.

Like I said, you never really know with relievers. Any of them.

It’ll take a bit of luck, a bit of health, and maybe one or two unexpected breakouts – a la Romano and Ryan Borucki from a year ago – for this pen to reach July without taking off, leaving manager Charlie Montoyo behind. mix and match almost from day one.

The turn of events on Tuesday also left Atkins claiming that the loss of Yates, along with Nate Pearson’s groin injury and Thomas Hatch’s episode of elbow inflammation – reports on these two young arms, however, are encouraging – might force them to speed up their eventual research. for pitching.

Previously, it was believed that they might be able to visit in June or July before doing so. Now they are already kicking the tires and brainstorming.

Atkins didn’t just talk about depth additions, specifically mentioning “raising the cap,” which is GM’s talk for trading for an impact player that matters.

In a weird way, Yates’ injury could create an emergency that could help this team add more launches earlier than expected and improve on them.

It’s the half-full glass, sure, but there’s definitely talent in the lead pipeline to do deals for any name that’s actually available.

After a promising start to the camp, the Jays have been bitten by the virus of bad luck on several occasions.

On the same day they broke the news from Yates, we learned that an MRI on George Springer’s left side revealed a grade 2 oblique stump, a notoriously delicate injury for a batter trying to turn to hit a ball from baseball.

Somehow Springer has been able to fix the problem for the most part this spring, but the Jays will need to be very careful with their $ 150million man and his status for opening day is uncertain.

“The MRI revealed an injury that he is able to play baseball with,” Atkins said. “He is extremely motivated and determined to be ready for opening day. I imagine we would have to get this out of his hands completely so that he doesn’t play (in New York), so we’ll stay open-minded and re-evaluate him as we continue to get closer. . ”

While it would be as disappointing for Springer as it would be for Jays fans if he missed opening day in New York – or maybe the entire series – against a division rival, it wouldn’t be smart to mess around, rush it and have it. he hit IL in early April, wasting the entire first month of the season at the end.

To make matters worse, left-handed starter Robbie Ray, one of this spring’s Florida highlights and a pitcher integral to the front office’s hopes of setting up a capable spin, fell down stairs while carrying his child in his rental in Dunedin.

He protected the little one, but ended up with a bruised left elbow.

Atkins is hoping Ray will be ready to start next weekend in New York as planned.

For a talented team that still need a lot of stuff to be a legitimate candidate in 2021, this is becoming a bit of an ominous end to what had been a positive camp in Dunedin this month.

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