Joe Kelly joined the Los Angeles Dodgers’ group of free agents this offseason after his $12 million team option for the 2022 season was declined. He instead received a $4 million buyout and reached the open market for the first time since 2018.
Kelly was not among the free agents to sign a contract before the MLB lockout began, but he figures to receive plenty of interest once business resumes. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated the team would be in the mix to re-sign the 33-year-old when the work stoppage ends.
During a recent appearance on “Dodger Talk” with David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports, Kelly indicated he wants to re-sign with the Dodgers and noted the interest is mutual:
“As for the whole lockout thing, once it’s over, obviously we’re all going to sit down. The teams are going to be signing, the signing period is going to be like basketball. People are going to be signing at 4 in the morning. Obviously I want to come back and be a Dodger. And the interest is mutual, so we’ve got to make something happen.”
Kelly is coming off his most successful season with the Dodgers as he posted a 2.86 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 0.98 WHIP in 44 innings pitched over 48 games. He logged an additional 5.1 innings across seven postseason appearances before sustaining a season-ending right biceps strain in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series.
The expectation is that Kelly will make a full recovery by the start of the 2022 season. If the Dodgers look to bring him back, it presumably will be at a lower salary than the $12 million he would have received if his option was exercised.
The St. Louis Cardinals could also be a potential fit for Kelly, which would mark a homecoming. The organization reportedly checked in on the right-hander before the lockout began, but didn’t make an aggressive push to sign him.
While the Cardinals are in the market for late-inning bullpen help, they reportedly did not show much interest in fellow Dodgers free agent Kenley Jansen, who is expected to sign elsewhere this offseason.
Joe Kelly’s favorite baseball moments involve ‘battling’ MLB
Kelly previously revealed that taking MLB to court twice in the last four seasons are his favorite baseball moments thus far.
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