3. Arizona Diamondbacks: Merrill Kelly
The D-Backs are in the same boat as the Rockies. Bad team. No way of turning it around by the start of 2022. So why not part with some veteran assets that could provide salary relief and net a decent return?
Veteran pitcher Merrill Kelly, who has just three years of MLB experience after spending most of his career overseas, is entering his age-33 season and will earn $5.25 million on the final year of his contract with Arizona.
Eight of the Diamondbacks’ top-17 prospects are pitchers and a number of them are close to MLB or full-time MLB work. On the other hand, the Dodgers need a starter to help lengthen the rotation, and Kelly has proven he can eat a decent amount of innings (183.1 in 2019 and 158 in 2021).
While Arizona has just $82 million committed to next year’s payroll, Kelly is certainly not in their future plans, and they’d stand to get a top-15 prospect in return for what he can offer at a cost-effective salary (he’s making $3 million FEWER than Andrew Heaney!).
This potential acquisition, with or without Kershaw, would help LA. Right now, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías are heading into 2022 after being majorly overworked in 2021. Dustin May is coming off Tommy John surgery and probably won’t pitch until the second half of the year. David Price … what is he even doing? Trevor Bauer is all but officially gone. And then there’s Heaney and Tony Gonsolin. More depth is needed, especially that of experience.
Additionally, Kelly absolutely owns the Giants and Padres (but somehow not the Rockies?). In 10 starts against the Giants, he owns a 3.21 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. In 10 starts against the Pads, he’s 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. The Dodgers could use that kind of production against those opponents also vying for NL West supremacy.