Two Relievers Cubs Have "Scouted Closely": Blue Jays Righty Ryan Tepera, Padres Righty Kirby Yates

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Two Relievers Cubs Have “Scouted Closely”: Blue Jays Righty Ryan Tepera, Padres Righty Kirby Yates

Chicago Cubs

The relief market is so loaded with options for teams like the Cubs that going over every single possibility at this point with any kind of depth (beyond a, hey, here’s a list!) would be unrealistic. The Cubs have no doubt done their homework over the past few weeks, however, and likely have several favorites.

To that end, two names specifically brought up by Bruce Levine this afternoon: “Blue Jays righty reliever Ryan Tepera and Padres righty reliever Kirby Yates are two players whom the Cubs have scouted closely.”

Tepera and Yates are not guys we’ve heard before, but we have heard of the Cubs possibly looking at the Blue Jays and Padres as relief trade partners. So there’s a little extra nexus there.

Yates, 31, is a very well-travelled reliever who only got a lengthy and meaningful chance to stick in the big leagues in 2016 with the Yankees when he was already almost 30. He came up in the Rays’ system as a pure reliever, but appears to have struggled to find footing in the upper minors. But then he got that chance with the Yankees, putting up solid peripherals and a terrible ERA. That translated to a shot with the Padres the next year, and the solid peripherals remained, while translating to good results, too.

This year, however, he’s exploded: 1.60 ERA, 2.02 FIP, 49.5% groundball rate, 32.1% K rate, 7.1% BB rate, 15.4% IFFB rate. Based purely on 2018 numbers, Yates might be the best reliever still on the market.

A recent FanGraphs article pretty much sums things up on Yates with its title: “You Might Not Recognize Kirby Yates.” Indeed. But the guy has been really good, and it’s largely thanks to, among other things, developing a new splitter – the kind of thing you might bank on being sustainable, despite the fact that he only just broke out at age 30/31.

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Yates would probably cost a sizable return, not only because of his breakout, but also because he’s controllable via arbitration for two more seasons after this year.

Tepera, 30, has been a perfectly solid reliever for the Blue Jays for three and a half years now. He came up through the system in a traditional way, converted to the bullpen at AAA in 2014, and then became a solid big league reliever. Nothing really out of the ordinary in his story – just a good reliever who will hit arbitration next year for the first time, and the Blue Jays are considering extracting value from.

This year, Tepera has a 3.71 ERA, a 3.92 FIP (mostly because of his 1.24 HR/9), a 45.5% groundball rate, a 27.0% strikeout rate, a 7.9% BB rate, and an 18.6% IFFB rate. He’s been good. Just very solidly good.


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.