So far, this offseason has felt like Braves Central, in that the Braves have seemingly (not actually) been involved in like half the moves made to date. On Tuesday afternoon, though, it appears that there’s been a Braves-adjacent, rather than full-on-Braves, move:
Free-agent reliever Kirby Yates in agreement with Rangers on one-year contract, pending physical, source tells @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2023
The Braves declined Kirby Yates’ club option on November 6, paying him a $1.25 million buyout in lieu of retaining his services in 2024 for a $5.75 million price tag.
Yates had a strange line last year: 74 ERA-, 107 FIP-, 99 xFIP-, with an xERA between his FIP and xFIP. Those aren’t really relief-caliber numbers aside from the ERA, and his current Steamer projection seems him as an above-replacement but meh-caliber reliever (0.2 WAR in 57 innings).
The Braves opted to move on in search of better quality and perhaps lower cost, but it looks like the Rangers are taking some form of plunge here. The current Steamer-only-based Fangraphs Depth Charts see the Rangers as having the sixth-worst bullpen in MLB, so Yates may actually be an upgrade there... but if he pitches like he did in 2023, that may not even be the case.
Stay tuned for updates regarding the salary commitment to Yates.