Kirby Yates is a high-risk free-agent and the Mariners have other options to choose from
The free-agent market is filled with many talented veteran relievers and Yates is not worth the risk. Yates’ surgery is a major red flag and the free-agent market is filled with relievers who pitched the entire 2020 season with success.
At the moment, Spotrac projects Yates’ market value to be $8.6million per year. So, Yates is still projected to be paid well despite his high risk. There will be lots of movement in the bullpens around the league and Yates has some leverage to bargain after his All-Star season in 2019.
Due to the pandemic, the expectation is that teams will be very cautious in spending money due to lost revenues. The Mariners have created lots of salary room by rebuilding the past five seasons, but signing a high risk, high reward player does not seem to be a smart move.
Jerry Dipoto did make it a point to bolster the bullpen as the Mariners look to come out of the rebuild, but safer options exist. There are pitchers like Mark Melancon, Joakim Soria, and Alex Colome who have better track records on the market. I would think they would be cheaper than Yates as well.
If Yates is asking for a large contract, it would be best for the Mariners to not pursue him and put the focus elsewhere. But, if the whole league is skeptical about Yates’ injury, and the values of players drop due to the pandemic, Yates might be worth an incentive-based contract for 2021. My main concern is offering Yates a $10million per year contract after barely pitching in 2020 when we could offer that type of money to Blake Treinen or others.