RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: August 7, 1977
Height: 6′ 4″
Drafted: 23rd Round, 675th Overall, 1998
How Acquired: Trade (for Todd Redmond)
College: University of Hawaii-Hilo
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|The Pirates acquired Yates from the Braves for Todd Redmond just prior to the 2008 season. The Braves had a roster crunch and Yates was out of options, while the Pirates needed a body to fill out what proved to be a horrible bullpen. Yates fit Neal Huntington’s preference for power pitchers, as his fastball averages around 95. He also throws an upper-80s slider. He’s had a strong platoon split, with a career opponents’ OPS+ of 134 against LH batters and 77 against RH batters.
Started off pitching in relief in rookie ball and allowed a lot of baserunners. Somehow he kept his ERA below 4.00.
Struggled in the high A California League, although that’s not exactly unusual. He pitched solely in relief except for one start.
Yates split the season between the Cal League and AA. He did much better in class A, where his K rate increased sharply. He didn’t do well in AA, mainly due to control problems.
Yates spent most of the season as a closer in AA, picking up 17 saves despite a mediocre ERA. He still allowed a lot of baserunners for a guy with a power arm. He finished the season with four outings in AAA.
The A’s dealt Yates to the Mets as part of the trade for Dave Justice prior to the 2002 season. The Mets sent Yates to AAA and he pitched very well through 24 games, striking out a batter an inning. He season ended, however, with Tommy John surgery.
Yates returned from the surgery and the Mets tried him as a starter. He worked his way up through high A, AA and AAA, starting 23 games and putting up very similar numbers at each level. He continued to walk a lot of batters, although the surgery could have played a role.
Yates opened the season in the Mets’ rotation. After seven starts he was 1-4, 6.34. They then sent him back to AAA and he moved back to the bullpen. His K rate jumped all the way to nearly ten per nine innings, but he still had control problems.
Yates missed the entire season due to rotator cuff surgery.
After the surgery, the Mets non-tendered Yates and he signed with Baltimore, only to be released before the season started. The Braves signed him at the beginning of May and, after a brief AAA tuneup, he moved up to Atlanta. He pitched reasonably well in 56 outings, but he still allowed a lot of baserunners and had a very high walk rate.
Yates had a strong first half, posting a 3.06 ERA, but got hammered in July and posted a second half ERA of 7.63. His walk and K rates did improve.
Opened as the Pirates’ primary right-handed setup reliever, but struggled until late in the season. Yates’ control was poor throughout the first half and his strikeout total didn’t climb above his walk total until some time in July. Because his ERA remained under 4.00 until late July, however, some fans and the team’s broadcasters seemed to think Yates was a great acquisition. Instead, he was a classic example of how misleading relief ERAs can be. His WHIP through the All-Star break was 1.59, but other relievers bailed him out of a number of jams. In July and August, Yates started posting better walk and K numbers, but allowed 32 hits in 22 IP, and reality finally caught up with his ERA. In September, however, he allowed only two runs, two walks and seven hits in 11 IP, while fanning 18. He fanned seven of the last nine batters he faced. Oddly, though, the Pirates blamed Yates’ poor overall season on the notion that he wore down. This spin made little sense because his workload varied little from month to month, he pitched poorly early in the season despite a decent ERA, and his best month by a huge margin was September. His season’s numbers showed continuing control problems and a worsening K rate.
Yates should have been a candidate to be non-tendered during the off-season, especially considering that he was eligible for arbitration, but the Pirates continued in their firm belief that he’s a good reliever. Despite the fact that he’d had just one good season in a four-year major league career, Yates opened 2009 as the Pirates’ top right-handed setup man. He pitched badly until going on the disabled list with a sore elbow in late April. Rehab didn’t go well and he underwent Tommy John surgery in July. The Pirates waived him after season and he opted for free agency, but as expected re-signed with Pirates on a minor league deal.
Yates was in camp in March and was expected to be ready to pitch around mid-season. He suffered a setback, though, and it pushed the recovery time beyond season’s end.
The Pirates’ strange fascination with Yates continued when they signed him to another minor league deal for 2011. They brought him to major league camp, but he pitched poorly, which is understandable given the layoff. He was slated to open the season in the Indianapolis bullpen, but was diagnosed with a torn flexor tendon. That wasn’t expected to keep him out all year, but it did.
Given their history, the Pirates may try again to get Yates healthy on another minor league deal.
|2011: Minor League Contract
2010: $300,000 in minors ($975,000 in majors, didn’t play in majors all year)
2009: $1,300,000 (avoided arbitration)
2008: $800,000 (avoided arbitration)
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 1998
MLB Debut: 4/9/2004
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2002, 2003, 2004)
MLB Service Time: 5.050
|June 2, 1998: Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 23rd round, 675th overall pick; signed on June 10.
November 20, 2001: Contract purchased by the Oakland Athletics.
December 14, 2001: Acquired by the New York Mets from the Oakland Athletics along with Mark Guthrie in exchange for David Justice.
December 20, 2005: Non-tendered by the New York Mets.
January 24, 2006: Signed by the Baltimore Orioles as a free agent.
March 31, 2006: Released by the Baltimore Orioles.
May 3, 2006: Signed by the Atlanta Braves as a free agent.
May 30, 2006: Contract purchased by the Atlanta Braves.
March 26, 2008: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Todd Redmond.
October 26, 2009: Refused an outright assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates and elected for free agency.
January 4, 2010: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.
December 20, 2010: Signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a minor league free agent.