With the Los Angeles Dodgers continuing their search for stability among their pitching staff, they reportedly re-signed Joe Kelly to a one-year deal.
Kelly was acquired at the trade deadline from the Chicago White Sox in a deal that also included Lance Lynn. The veteran reliever then found a solid run of success upon returning to the Dodgers. In 11 appearances the right-hander notched a 1.74 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with 19 strikeouts in 10.1 innings pitched.
The Dodgers declined Kelly’s $9.5 million club option for the 2024 season, instead paying a $1 million buyout to make him a free agent. Roughly one month later Kelly agreed to terms with the Dodgers on a new contract for the 2024 season.
According to Jim Bowden of the Athletic, Kelly will earn slightly less than he would’ve earned if the Dodgers had picked up his prior club option by re-signing for an $8 million salary:
Joe Kelly deal with #Dodgers is 1-year $8m according to club source
— Jim Bowden⚾️🏈 (@JimBowdenGM) December 4, 2023
Kelly now rejoins a Dodgers team for his 13th season in Major League Baseball, and his fifth year with the club.
Returning to the Dodgers at an $8 million price tag is an indication of where the market currently stands for relief pitchers, but could also be a positive lens on how the front office projects his production in 2024.
By declining Kelly’s option, the Dodgers saved $500,000 in the process while also freeing up a roster spot prior to the Rule 5 Draft. They currently have Jason Heyward and Kelly waiting to officially be added, and have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
What does Joe Kelly bring to Dodgers’ bullpen?
Kelly’s status as a fan favorite has been expressed in more ways than his presence on the roster. He has his a Mariachi Joe Kelly mural painted by artist Jonas Never, while also receiving a bobblehead in the same outfit he wore when the team visited the White House to celebrate their 2020 World Series win.
But on the field, Kelly has an explosive arsenal that is among the best in baseball. His stuff ranked in the 98th percentile in terms of fastball velocity, and although Kelly didn’t qualify on pitching leaderboards, he carried a 35.7% strikeout rate.
When healthy, Kelly has shown the ability to be incredibly adept at missing barrels, forcing a ground ball, and using his power offspeed to get a whiff. Alongside Evan Phillips, the Dodgers now have another veteran option at the backend of their bullpen.
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