NASHVILLE, Tenn. >> The Texas Rangers signed veteran reliever Kirby Yates to a $4.5 million, one-year contract today to bolster the bullpen of the World Series champs.
Yates, who will be 37 on opening day, was 7-2 with five saves and a 3.28 ERA last season in helping the Atlanta Braves to a major league-best 104 wins. Atlanta lost to Philadelphia in their NL Division Series.
Yates, a Kauai High graduate, made his postseason debut in Game 2 against the Phillies, with the right-hander throwing a scoreless inning in a 5-4 Atlanta victory.
A two-season stint with the Braves came after Yates missed all of 2021 following Tommy John surgery on his elbow.
Yates had an MLB-high 41 saves with San Diego in 2019, earning his only All-Star selection while setting a Padres record with a 1.19 ERA, among pitchers to throw a minimum of 60 innings in a season.
All 361 of Yates’ major league appearances have been in relief. Texas will be his sixth team.
General manager Chris Young has said adding relievers was among the offseason priorities for the Rangers, who overcame bullpen issues to win the franchise’s first World Series title this year.
Yates joins a young mix of middle relievers that includes left-handers Brock Burke and Cody Bradford and right-hander Josh Sborz, who got the save with 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the Game 5 clincher to end the World Series against Arizona.
José Leclerc emerged from an up-and-down regular season to become the primary closer in the postseason, going 1-1 with a 3.29 ERA and four saves in 13 appearances.
Texas traded for longtime closer Aroldis Chapman during the season, but the 35-year-old left-hander is a free agent. Will Smith, another lefty who had the longest stint as the Texas closer during the season, also is a free agent.
Yates has a career strikeout rate of 12.51 per nine innings. That’s eighth all-time among pitchers with at least 300 innings.