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Hawaii-born Yates returns to where it all began

Padres closer training in island state for All-Star Tour in Japan
MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN DIEGO -- Kirby Yates' offseason still hasn't started.

The Padres' closer -- who has reinvented himself into one of the most dominant back-end relievers in the National League West over the past two seasons -- takes off for MLB's All-Star Tour with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) later this week. He's currently going through workouts with that group of stars in his native Hawaii.

SAN DIEGO -- Kirby Yates' offseason still hasn't started.

The Padres' closer -- who has reinvented himself into one of the most dominant back-end relievers in the National League West over the past two seasons -- takes off for MLB's All-Star Tour with Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) later this week. He's currently going through workouts with that group of stars in his native Hawaii.

"Wearing a Major League uniform in the state of Hawaii -- that opportunity doesn't always come around, and I'm extremely fortunate and appreciative of that," Yates said.

Video: Kirby Yates discusses Hawaii workouts, Japan Series

Yates took 10 days off at the end of the season before revamping his throwing program. He says he's surprised at how good his bullpen sessions have felt and that he's back into game shape and ready for three or four appearances over the seven-day trip.

It's a nice career stage for Yates, who hasn't received much notoriety despite an excellent 2018 campaign in which he posted a 2.14 ERA and whiffed 90 hitters in 63 innings. Since the Padres claimed Yates off waivers in April '17, he's developed one of the nastiest splitters in baseball, and he took over as closer when Brad Hand was dealt to Cleveland following his appearance at the All-Star Game. Many felt as though Yates was equally deserving of that All-Star spot.

That recent success figures to make Yates a sought-after piece on the trade market this winter as well. The Padres have a very deep bullpen, and Yates, 31, has two years of team control remaining. He'd likely be a nice piece for a contending team's 'pen while the Padres look to supplement their roster elsewhere.

Video: Kirby Yates is talking about 'Pidgin'

That said, there are no imminent trade talks regarding Yates, and his focus remains on the All-Star Tour.

"When they asked me, I jolted a little bit," Yates said. "I don't want to say I was surprised, but it was just really cool to be invited to something like this."

"Everybody wants their rest and to get into their normal offseason activity," Yates continued. "But if I thought that would've been a concern and I wouldn't be ready for next season, I wouldn't have done this. ... It'll be a really, really cool experience."

When he returns, a busy offseason could await.

GM Meetings open in Carlsbad
The General Managers Meetings began Monday afternoon in Carlsbad, Calif., but Padres GM A.J. Preller won't meet with the media until Tuesday afternoon.

Among the topics he'll be discussing: the starting pitching market, the future of Freddy Galvis and the three changes to the San Diego coaching staff.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Kirby Yates