Early into free agency the Los Angeles Dodgers declined their $12 million team option on Joe Kelly for the 2022 regular season in favor of paying a $4 million buyout. The decision immediately made the right-hander a free agent.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman soon after said the club intended to be heavily involved in re-signing Kelly. That didn’t take place before the MLB lockout began in December, but L.A. did add veteran relief pitcher Daniel Hudson.
During various points off the offseason the St. Louis Cardinals were mentioned as a potentially landing spot for Kelly. Conversations between Kelly and the Cardinals were believed to be preliminary, and he recently confirmed interest in re-signing with the Dodgers.
However, Kelly has instead agreed to a two-year contract with the Chicago White Sox, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports:
High-powered reliever Joe Kelly has agreed to a 2-year contract with the Chicago #WhiteSox. The deal will be final when he completes a physical.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 13, 2022
Kelly is coming off his third and most successful season with the Dodgers as he posted a 2.86 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 0.98 WHIP in 44 innings over 48 games. Kelly’s season ended during the National League Championship Series when he suffered a biceps injury.
The 33-year-old said earlier this month he was recovering well and throwing on a regular basis.
Over the past three seasons with L.A., Kelly went 7-4 with three saves, a 3.59 ERA, 3.46 FIP and 1.23 WHIP across 115 games (one start). The Dodgers are due to face the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field from June 7-9. There is not a return to Dodger Stadium on the 2022 schedule.
Kelly leading baseball revolution
As the MLB lockout spanned 99 days, Kelly decided to form what he described as a ‘revolution’ to improve the sport’s popularity. His “Baseball Isn’t Boring” social media brand (@PoutingIsCool on Twitter and @BaseballIsntBoring on Instagram) is “on a mission to prove that baseball is awesome in so many ways.”
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