While the Los Angeles Dodgers were looking to acquire a right-handed hitter and address their starting rotation at the trade deadline, they also fortified the bullpen by reuniting Joe Kelly from the Chicago White Sox as part of a deal that included Lance Lynn.
Both pitchers were conceivably one-year rentals as the Dodgers held a team option on Kelly and Lynn. They predictably declined Lynn’s $18 million option for 2024, and he went on to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kelly was also among the players who had their option declined by the Dodgers for next season.
He has remained a free agent for the past month but is close to re-signing with the Dodgers, according to Robert Murray of FanSided:
Free-agent reliever Joe Kelly and the Los Angeles Dodgers are “very close” to an agreement, according to sources familiar with the situation. All indications are that a deal will get done.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 2, 2023
The Dodgers paid Kelly a $1 million buyout by declining their $9.5 million team option.
Kelly was effective for the Dodgers after being acquired, but he also dealt with multiple injuries throughout the 2023 season. He missed time in April because of a right groin strain, 16 days in July with elbow trouble prior to being traded to the Dodgers, and another month from August to September due to right forearm inflammation.
Kelly finished the year with a combined 4.12 ERA but a stellar 2.72 FIP while striking out 35.7% of hitters and walking 10.7% in 39.1 innings.
The Dodgers bullpen for 2024 doesn’t project to have many openings, and Kelly would further bolster the depth. L.A. has additionally been linked to Yariel Rodríguez and Robert Stephenson in free agency. Rodríguez is being viewed by some teams as a starter.
Joe Kelly’s trip to In-N-Out
Upon arriving in Los Angeles after the trade, Kelly immediately went to In-N-Out for an early lunch due in large part to not having breakfast on the flight.
Kelly going to the beloved burger chain including surprising Dodgers clubhouse attendants with food.
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