The Los Angeles Dodgers declined their $12 million team option on Joe Kelly for the 2022 season and he instead will receive a $4 million buyout.
Kelly now has joined the Dodgers’ group of free agents that most notably includes Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Kenley Jansen and Chris Taylor.
In buying out Kelly, the Dodgers are saving $8 million that can be reallocated to other key free agents. The 33-year-old now is back on the open market for the first time since 2018, but could return to the club next year at a lesser salary.
Kelly is coming off his best season with the Dodgers as he went 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 0.98 WHIP in 44 innings pitched across 48 appearances. Some of that was attributed to surgery that removed a cyst and alleviated discomfort he had been experiencing.
“Just everyday things of washing my hair, reaching for a backpack, laying down on my back, that burned,” Kelly explained. “Kind of like if there were fire ants inside my arm and moving down my hand. Getting rid of that was definitely a plus.
“That’s where I found a day or two days after surgery, you’re definitely banged up, but I got instant relief. It was great to know it was successful. After that I’m normal human being again.”
Kelly emerged as one of the team’s most reliable relievers during their playoff run until he sustained a season-ending biceps injury in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
Kelly to recover in time for 2022
The right biceps injury Kelly suffered in the NLCS was recently reported as likely to keep him out by the start of next season. However, that has since been clarified and it is not expected that Kelly will make a full recovery by Opening Day.
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