It appears closer Kirby Yates won't make his regular-season debut with the Toronto Blue Jays this year after agreeing to a one-year deal with the club in January.
Per Keegan Matheson of the official MLB website, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told reporters on Tuesday it's "very likely" Yates will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right arm. Toronto previously announced the veteran who turns 34 years old on Thursday was dealing with a flexor-pronator strain in his right arm.
"It’s a big blow," Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said about the setback on Monday before Tuesday's update. "We are lucky that our bullpen is deep enough that we can hang in there until Kirby comes back. I feel good about our bullpen, but it’s a big loss."
Matheson added that Jordan Romano, 27, could be given the opportunity to replace Yates in the closer position.
According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), Yates made his second spring training appearance on Saturday against the Philadelphia Phillies and struck out two batters in a scoreless inning. That may be his final inning of work wearing a Blue Jays uniform.
Yates' one-year contract is worth $5.5 million and includes incentives he won't reach. He was an All-Star in 2019 with the San Diego Padres when he led the National League with 41 saves but was limited to six games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season before he underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.