The Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly made their first big signing of the offseason, agreeing to a three-year, $25 million contract with reliever Joe Kelly on the final morning of the Winter Meetings. The club has not yet confirmed the deal.
Kelly is someone the Dodgers are very familiar with, dating back to 2013 when he hit Hanley Ramirez in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. He broke Ramirez’s ribs, which contributed to the St. Louis Cardinals winning the series.
The Dodgers then faced Kelly again in the 2018 World Series as a member of the Boston Red Sox, and he dominated to the tune of six shutout innings with 10 strikeouts.
For the first time since agreeing to the contract, Kelly spoke with Rob Bradford of WEII Radio and explained the Dodgers were the only team to offer him a three-year deal:
“I don’t know if there was one moment besides this was the team I wanted to play for, this was the team that gave me a three-year deal, $25 million. There wasn’t writing on the wall before that. It was, ‘Here’s a three-year deal,’ and no other team was at the three-year mark. There were other teams in, but no other teams were at the three-year mark. I was already really, really involved with speaking with LA and understanding the philosophies and was already intrigued. So if you want a moment that was probably it.
“If there was another team involved this was the closest to staying with the team I won a World Series with.”
If Kelly can repeat his 2018 postseason success, then he would slot in perfectly in front of closer Kenley Jansen as the Dodgers’ setup man.
The 30-year-old pitched to a 4.39 ERA, 3.57 FIP and 1.36 WHIP in 73 regular-season games with the Red Sox in 2018. He can perhaps benefit from working with Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt on his sequencing though, so with his fastball consistently reaching 100 mph, the upside is definitely there.