White Sox block Dodgers twice by signing Joe Kelly, adding infielder

Adam Weinrib
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 08: Joe Kelly #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 08: Joe Kelly #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in action against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 8, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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On Saturday evening, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost a little of their edge, just a few weeks after a mutual agreement seemed almost assured.

Reliever Joe Kelly saw his $12 million option with the Dodgers for 2022 declined following a season that ended with another injury. Kelly was named a surprise NLCS Game 5 starter, but unfortunately came up lame, leaving the mound in disappointment while nursing what was later diagnosed as a right biceps strain.

For a bit, though, it seemed that both Kelly and the Dodgers were keen on each other and would work something out at a tinier price tag.

When Kelly appeared on Dodger Talk with David Vassegh on AM 570 LA Sports during the final weeks of the lockout, he spoke glowingly of the mutual interest that seemed likely to facilitate a reunion:

"“As for the whole lockout thing, once it’s over, obviously we’re all going to sit down. The teams are going to be signing, the signing period is going to be like basketball. People are going to be signing at 4 in the morning. Obviously I want to come back and be a Dodger. And the interest is mutual, so we’ve got to make something happen.”"

Unfortunately, all this quote ultimately did was make our pouts more fervent when free agency actually did open up. Amidst the blur of the frenzy, Kelly inked a two-year deal with the Chicago White Sox on Saturday evening.

Dodgers lose Joe Kelly, Josh Harrison to White Sox

Kelly was quite effective in 2021, even though the on-field portions of his Dodgers tenure were often overshadowed by his outsized personality.

Mariachi suit and Correa hatred aside, Kelly was an invaluable piece of a Dodgers ‘pen, whiffing 50 in 44 innings with a 2.86 ERA and conquering his control issues to post an under-1.00 WHIP (0.977).

Last season was the very best of Kelly, and despite the reported interest in a return, his uptick in value clearly piqued the interest of other contenders. The White Sox have now backloaded their back end, joining Kelly and Kendall Graveman alongside Liam Hendriks. Compare that to what the Dodgers have — yes, minus Corey Knebel and Kenley Jansen — and you’re looking at a significantly better situation in the AL Central.

The Kelly deal wasn’t the only time this weekend that the White Sox sent the Dodgers into a frenzy, either. LA inked infielder Hanser Alberto on Sunday morning … but only after they were outfoxed by the ChiSox on a Josh Harrison contract.

Harrison, coming off a comeback season where he posted 2.1 WAR and hit .279 with a 106 OPS+ between Washington and Oakland, is a more versatile fit than Alberto and has a longer track record/pedigree. All told, the scoreboard reads Chicago 2, Los Angeles 0 after this weekend.

But there’s still plenty of time on the clock and Freddie Freemans on the board, after all.

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