The Dodgers are reportedly close to making their first major move of the off-season which appears to be signing Joe Kelly.
The Dodgers are reportedly in agreement with reliever Joe Kelly on a deal pending a physical. Dodger fans certainly know who Joe Kelly is as he busted Hanley Ramirez’s ribs in the 2013 playoffs that seemingly took the air of the Dodgers’ playoff run. This year he helped the Red Sox win the World Series and stifled the Dodgers in the World Series.
Kelly’s 2018 regular season doesn’t look like anything special on paper as he pitched to a 4.39 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. Joe did his best work in the postseason where his 0.79 ERA and 0.71 WHIP were much better than his regular season numbers. Kelly held opposing batters to a .186 batting average working as Craig Kimbrel’s primary setup man along with Nathan Eovaldi.
The deal is pending a physical and believed to be for three years and 25 million dollars. It is not yet known if there are any incentives that could raise the value. The deal is a change in the philosophy for Andrew Friedman who was beginning to get the reputation of not wanting to spend money on relievers in free agency.
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Joe Kelly figures to operate as the Dodgers’ primary setup reliever for the eighth inning. Kenley Jansen has shown that he is incapable of pitching two inning saves in the postseason over the last two years so this move will help Dave Roberts limit Jansen to the ninth inning. Friedman said earlier this week that he wouldn’t shy away from signing free agent relievers.
Kelly is not a one dimensional pitcher as he has gotten left and right-handed batters out at nearly the same clip for the past three seasons. Lefties have hit .227 against Kelly and right-handed batters have hit .239. Both sides of the plate have also hit six home runs off of Kelly over the past three seasons. This means that there will be no need to remove Kelly in the eighth inning no matter who comes to the plate.
The move is sure to get some criticism as Kelly has been up and down over the past few seasons such as 2016 when he pitched to a 5.18 ERA. Kelly does rank 47th for ERA+ among relievers since the beginning of 2017. If Kelly can pitch how he did this past October then the move will end up being a solid deal for the Dodgers. It’s unlikely that the Dodgers will go out and sign another reliever after Kelly, so the next move figures to be finding a catcher to pair with Austin Barnes.