CLEVELAND -- The Indians boasted one of the American League's best bullpens last season and have the ability to return with virtually the same cast next year. Given the volatile nature of a relief corps, though, the club is always on the hunt for more depth.
On Wednesday, Cleveland took a step in that direction, acquiring right-hander Kirby Yates from Tampa Bay in exchange for cash considerations. In order to add Yates to the 40-man roster, Michael Choice was designated for assignment.
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Yates had been designated for assignment by the Rays on Friday.
In parts of the past two Major League seasons with Tampa Bay, the 28-year-old Yates turned in a 5.27 ERA in 57 appearances, compiling 63 strikeouts and 22 walks in 56 1/3 innings. He had a 7.97 ERA in 20 games in 2015, allowing 10 home runs in 20 1/3 innings. The 10 homers accounted for 16 of the 18 earned runs he allowed.
Yates features a four-seam fastball, which registered at 93.2 mph on average last season, according to PITCHf/x data. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup. Yates had more success in 2014 (3.75 ERA in 37 games) when he relied on his slider as his primary breaking pitch. In '15, he threw more curveballs and changeups, while dropping his slider usage by nearly 20 percent.
As things stand, the Indians' bullpen projects to include closer Cody Allen, setup man Bryan Shaw, righty Zach McAllister and right-hander Jeff Manship. Others in the mix for jobs from the 40-man roster include Austin Adams, Shawn Armstrong, Kyle Crockett, Nick Hagadone, Giovanni Soto and Josh Tomlin. Joe Colon will be in camp as well as a non-roster invitee.
Last season, the Indians ranked second in the AL with a 3.12 ERA, third in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.92) and fifth in bullpen WAR (4.9, according to Fangraphs). Thanks to the strength of its starting rotation, the Tribe's bullpen threw the second-fewest innings (453 1/3) in the league as well.
The Indians have 10 days to either trade or release Choice, or send him outright to the Minor Leagues if he clears waivers. Cleveland originally acquired the outfielder from the Rangers last season on Aug. 21 in exchange for cash considerations. Choice hit .204 in only 14 games for Triple-A Columbus while in Cleveland's system.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.