Dodgers bringing back Joe Kelly raises questions about team's priorities

Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Anybody care to tell us exactly what the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing? When fans learned of the return of Joe Kelly over the weekend, they certainly preferred to be excited rather than inquisitive, which is what quickly happened in a matter of hours.

Why? Well, the Dodgers rejected Kelly's $9.5 million team option at the onset of the offseason and paid his $1 million buyout. Not too long after the agreement on a one-year deal was reported Saturday, details surfaced suggesting the contract was worth $8 million.

That means the Dodgers did all of that to save ... $500K? Some optimistic and less critical Dodgers fans came to the forefront of the conversation to suggest the Dodgers had to set Kelly free a month ago to clear spaces on the 40-man roster and make room for the guys they were going to protect from the Rule 5 Draft, but we simply can't buy that.

The Dodgers tendered a contract to all 13 of their arbitration-eligible players, some of whom could've easily been cut loose for the cost of $0. The Dodgers' 40-man roster is filled with fodder. This is not a playoff team by any means. And protecting Nick Frasso, Landon Knack and Hunter Feduccia? That's three players. There should've been plenty of room for them after the turnover LA had this offseason.

Others speculated this was for luxury tax purposes, now that the Dodgers officially save $1.5 million against the tax in 2024. $1.5 million. Is that what we're doing now? Pinching every last penny when there's a potential duo worth $700 million on the way?

Dodgers bringing back Joe Kelly raises questions about team's priorities

Also, wasn't the initial expectation that rejecting Kelly's team option meant he'd be returning at a discount, especially because of his injury troubles in 2023 and the fact that, overall, the Dodgers bullpen needed upgrades?

With Yency Almonte, Alex Vesia, Victor González, Blake Treinen, Gus Varland and now Kelly back in the mix, can we even expect any changes on that front? And guys like JP Feyereisen, Ricky Vanasco and Kyle Hurt don't count. Those are all unknown commodities.

Unless there's some grand plan to pull what the Braves did and free up about 10 roster spots with a couple of trades, there's no argument to suggest the Dodgers will look much different in 2024.

This is an organization that's supposed to spend money freely and trade prospects or ditch underperformers with little concern. Instead, as the years have progressed, the Dodgers are operating more and more like a small market team with far too much attention to the wrong details.

It doesn't help that Shohei Ohtani's free agency tour is a giant mystery, too. If he doesn't sign with the Dodgers, the last few years of missteps will have been all for nothing and might send the fanbase into a blind rage.