Dodgers Bullpen: Joe Kelly Reportedly Signs Multi-Year Deal

(AP Photo)

Old foes can become friends, and that is what seems to be happening between the Dodgers and Joe Kelly. The 30-year-old righty reliever is reportedly in agreement to sign with Los Angeles, pending a physical.

Kelly has a tumultuous reputation with the Dodgers, starting in 2013 when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He threw an inside pitch in Game 1 of the NLCS that broke Hanley Ramirez‘s rib, rendering him out for the rest of the series. The Cardinals ended up going on to the World Series, only to lose to the Boston Red Sox. Kelly later joined those Red Sox, and was lights out against the Dodgers in this past World Series.

All will be forgiven if Kelly can help the Dodgers capture a World Championship of their own. He can touch 103 MPH on the radar gun and will make an excellent bridge to get to closer Kenley Jansen.

That is, if he pitches like he did in the postseason and not how he pitched during the regular season. Alex Cora stated that Kelly almost didn’t make the postseason roster after his subpar 2018, where he had a 4.73 ERA, 3.57 FIP and 1.36 WHIP over 73 innings pitched. He also had 68 strikeouts and 32 walks.

But he made a change late in the season, and was very good in the postseason, striking out 13, walking none, and only allowing one earned run in 11-1/3 innings of work. His problem was with his command, and seemingly has made a change for the better. Working with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt surely will help.

Kelly is a Southern California native, born in Anaheim and went to college at UC Riverside. His reported deal is for three years and $25 million. He would be the 41st man on the 40-man roster, so look for more moves to come soon. The Dodgers are still said to be deep in talks with the Cincinnati Reds and perhaps the Cleveland Indians.


43 thoughts on “Dodgers Bullpen: Joe Kelly Reportedly Signs Multi-Year Deal

  1. If he pitches like he did against us then that’s a deal. Never a bad thing to have 100mph coming out of your bullpen. If he throws strikes!

    1. I wonder if he could locate if he backed off the pedal a half inch and brought it in at 96. High and tight low and away at 96 would get me out 99% of the time. Hey, I think with a -5 bat (illegal in MABL now) I could put 1 of 100 on the outfield grass somewhere. I checked his spin rate. and advanced visuals. 4 seamer half the time. Curve, change and sinker all over the statcast map. Barrel % 3.9. Excellent. Exit velocity about league average. Launch angle a bit below league average. XWOBA and XSLG also below league average. K rate over 9. Spin rate 9th in all of baseball. Yoiks. Wonder why his ERA was over 4. Might be the high walk rate. Man can’t hit his spots maybe. Which brings me back to 96 over 100. 96 on the corners is better than 100 all over the place, including down the middle. Honeycutt might fix that.

      Is Homer a Dodger yet?

      1. It wouldn’t be the first time that Honeycutt convinces a pitcher to back off the pedal. Years back, I remember a kid named Josh Lindblom for the Isotopes who was regularly clocked at 101 MPH. Although he didn’t amount to much, he pretty much settled in at 91-92 MPH at the big league level. Then there was some kid called Kenley Jansen who was clocked at 102 MPH regularly for the Chattanooga Lookouts in Double-A before being promoted to the bigs. Honeycutt too just one look at his cutting action and started drooling. We never saw triple digits from Kenley after his first month in the majors.

    1. If they make an uneven trade (getting fewer players than giving up) within the next few days that will solve the problem. If not, Stewart, Fields, McCreery, Gale and Farmer are all candidates to be traded soon for a low level prospect in order to free up that 40th spot.

      1. I think one of them is more likely to be DFA’d and my candidate would be Gale. If Fields is healthy, and I think they will find that out in spring, he is pretty good out of the pen. Gale has shown pretty much nothing and is depth and that is about it. Not a snowballs chance in hell of making the team out of spring training.

      2. Gale would be my first guess also. Any of the others I mentioned might actually bring something back in a low level trade but Gale probably wouldn’t. He was depth at OKC last year but this season will start with Smith and Ruiz probably both there so no need for Gale.

      1. Joe went to the Reds, and the Phillies got Jackson and immediately flipped him to the Orioles for slot money.

      2. Sorry we lost them but you can’t protect everyone. On a different subject, I like the quotes I see coming from Andrew and Doc with regard to, 1) emphasizing two strike hitting and beating the shift this coming spring and, 2) hoping to work things out so they only platoon at about 2 positions this coming season. In my eyes, those are both very positive developments if they actually happen.

  2. Was just checking the 40 and our top prospects list and read this:

    The Dodgers spent more than $150 million on bonuses, guaranteed salaries and penalty tax on international players during the 2015-16 signing period, and none of them have a higher ceiling than Alvarez.

    A tear came to my eye.

    Note to Andrew: stay away from the IM for a few more months. 48 should be enough

    Who goes from the 40. I came up with the same list as Jefe but I’m adding Alvarez to it.
    I feel a major trade is imminent. Not necessarily by the Dodgers but somebody is going to make a splash today.

    1. Indians, Rays and Mariners 3 team deal just went down a little while ago. Most all execs are leaving Las Vegas as we speak.

  3. You can pretty much forget the Dodgers getting Kluber. The Indians got their power hitting outfielder in the trade they just made with the Rays and Mariners that brought Santana back and also got them Bauers from the Rays. He is a RH hitting 1B/OF who hit 11 homers in 96 games. But has huge potential in their eyes. Diaz went to the Rays and the Mariners got Encarnation.

      1. They have 6 on their roster right now without Bauers. They do not want either Kemp or Puig. Verdugo is pretty much the only option to be sent there unless you want to trade Kike or Joc or Taylor. Verdugo by himself is not getting you Kluber, nor Bauer. They had a better chance at getting him when the deal included Gomes. But Gomes is gone now. I think unless someone gets pretty creative Kluber will start the year in Cleveland.

      2. It sounds like the Indians are pretty anxious to get rid of one of those two guys. I think it will happen but it may very well not be to us.

  4. That is why I can see the reported rumor of LA talking with Detroit about Nick Castellanos being about using him to trade to Cleveland. Castellanos plus a mid level prospect for Klubermakes sense.

    1. Okay Alex, but does that trade address the Dodgers main needs? Getting Kluber would be nice, but it in no way addresses the Catcher situation, nor does it solidify the bullpen. And who are they trading to get Castellanos? So far that rumor has been asleep for days. Right now the buzz seems to be that if they cannot get the price for Realmuto down, which I do not think it will drop, and the Dodgers are not trading Bellinger, they have already begun talking to the Pirates about Cervelli which is a very decent stop gap addition until one of the kids is ready. They have to make a decision on 2nd base too. Any trade has a ripple effect. Say you trade Wood and one lower level prospect for Castellanos. But the Reds want Wood in any trade that would also include Matt Kemp and a prospect for Gennett and god forbid, Homer Bailey if he gave up his no trade. Maybe the Pirates want Wood in the Cervelli deal. Andrew gave up nothing but cash for Kelly. Now he needs to address the catching conundrum. As for Harper, I think the over rated guy should go sign somewhere else. He is not close to Puig or Verdugo defensively and is prone to long slumps aka Grandal. I honestly believe that the Kluber to the Dodgers or even Bauer to the Dodgers deal is deader than Julius Caesar.

      1. I for one don’t care if they get Kluber and would be happy with our team as it stands right now today but it seems everyone wants change. As far as Bryce Harper it’s well known I think he’s completely overrated and whatever team that falls for giving him the $$ Scott Boras will demand deserves what they get. I would be fine with Barnes starting at C and Taylor at 2B but if they want Cervelli fine he shouldn’t be too expensive in trade. I know Wilson Ramos wants more than a 1 year deal but if Andy really thinks Ruiz will be ready to start in 2020 then entice Ramos on 1 year deal with more cash than he’d probably get annually elsewhere. My guess is Ramos is worth about 2 years $16-18 million. His bat is good but he’s 31 and a below average defender and pitch framer behind the plate. So instead of committing past one year you offer him 1 year $10 million so he gets more annual value with a chance to hit free agency all over again next year. The same can be said for Grandal who I believe was foolish for not taking the $17.9 mil qualifying offer and heading into free agency in 2020 to secure a long term deal from someone. There is no chance Yaz sees $17.9 per year in his next contract. If for some reason the catching market doesn’t develop you offer Yaz 1 year $15 million and see if he bites. The Dodgers have the luxury to wait the catching market out as Barnes is a great insurance policy.

      2. I wouldn’t offer Grandal that much. He wants at least 3 years and i think he will get it. Move on from him.

        Ramos for 2 would work of course, Somebody will offer him more and he deserves it. Ruiz is 20. It might be wise to give him 2 more years then let him split time with Ramos as he steps into the full time job. Somebody is going to offer Ramos 3 and at least and $39M. Will it be us? Nope. We will go with Barnes and Hundleynado.

        Lots of time left. Winter meetings often just end up being a nice vacation for several big shots.

      3. Agree on Grandal. Agree we won’t go for Ramos. Agree lots of time left. Disagree on your last statement. If you think being holed up in a suite with a bunch of other guys and on your phone for 4 days is a nice vacation, you’ve never been to Sedona. Oh wait a minute…………………………………..

  5. I think I’m the only person that wants to see what this team can do as presently constructed. I like the rotation of Kersh, Walker, Ryu, Hill, Wood/Urias/Maeda and I think CT3 is due to have a good year if given the 2B job. Most don’t like Barnes but I can live with him hitting 8th with his good defense and solid base running. If anything I would like to add one more reliever like Andrew Miller but I won’t hold my breath on that.

    1. I think most of us agree that hitting was more of a problem than pitching last year so if RVS can make a major difference as hitting coach and if they follow up on Andrew’s comments about more bunting against the shift and better approaches to 2-strike hitting, we probably could make a run at it with the current roster. That said, I would be surprised if you got your wish Alex. I think more changes are coming.

      1. No question there will be several moves. It seems like everyone is ready to be rid of Alex Wood for some reason. I’ve long been a huge supporter of him and if he can get his fastball back to 92-94 he’s an all star type pitcher.

      2. I think if you’d ask Wood today if he would like to be traded, he would probably answer “yes” because, going into his contract year, he would rather be assured of pitching every 5th day and rebuilding his value, rather than being shuffled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen and mostly being remembered for how badly he pitched in the playoffs last year. A good year as a starter in 2019 and he could get himself a nice contract next winter. That is much more likely to be achievable away from his current situation.

  6. I’m also dumbfounded by Friedman saying he has a surplus of starting pitching after witnessing what has happened the past two seasons. I believe we were on our 9th starter by May last year. You never have enough pitching.

    1. It’s one thing to have young pitching where you can rotate guys with options back and forth from OKC to LA, but when you have an overabundance of veterans to deal with and you wind up moving guys to the bullpen (Wood, Stripling, etc.) you just wind up with guys who smile and say “I’ll do whatever they need me to do” and hate every minute of it. Injuries play into every season’s rotation, but what do you do with your experienced starters if you have 7 or 8 of them while you’re waiting to see who gets injured? This is somewhat the equivalent of the platooning we did with the offense last year and having them tell us everyone bought into it. Puig finally opened his mouth and now we hear that management would prefer to have only a couple of positions where they platoon this year.

  7. I’m not down on Wood Alex, I am just predicting that they will move one established starting pitcher, it’s not going to be kersh, or Buehler, maedas contract is super team friendly, plus he is good out of the pen(excepting the 2018 WS) I think they want Ryu, or why did they offer him the QO. That leaves Hill, and Wood, between those two I keep Hill. That still leaves Urias, Strippling, and Fergy for depth.

  8. Hey Jeff, isn’t there a rule against trading someone who accepted the QO, until May, or something like that?

  9. Glad to see AF addressed one of the teams needs with someone to pitch the 8th inning, now he can try to work on the catching, and second base positions, if he doesn’t find a deal he likes, then we can still be a good team with the Alex plan( status quo) but I think there will be a couple more moves, at least.

  10. I wonder if the Reds might be interested in Chris Taylor.

    You ever been to Las Vegas Jefe? If those people who went these past few days, on somebody else’s dime, didn’t enjoy themselves then shame on them.

    Friedman isn’t done. If nothing else he will continue to add perimeter pieces. I think he is still interested in Harper. 35 home runs and 100 RBIs would come in handy for Roberts. Harper is a 4+ oWAR player. But his recent -3.2 dWAR could be a problem. It’s my opinion defensive ability can be improved with hard work. I wonder if Bryce would agree to do that. If not, ef him. He should go to the AL. In my estimation anyone making $30 million must be a multiple dimension player. An hour a day drilling his ass off and he would easily be a 0 dWAR player.

    We strike out too often. I will agree to that. But when you lead your league in runs scored I think it’s a stretch to say we have an offensive “problem”. Scoring runs is what the game is about. Make contact with 2 strikes more often and it can’t help but make it easier to win games.

    I agree we will win the West without doing anything else. I’ve said as much here. I also agree you can’t have too many starters. If I had to choose between Kluber and Harper I’d probably take the less expensive 5.8 WAR 200 inning pitcher. Unless of course the younger slugger agreed to put in an extra hour a day improving his defensive skills. Then I take the in his prime slugger.

    Wood returns to 92-94 and it’s a good thing but Homer throws 95 and sucks the ruby begonia. Homer throws harder than Kershaw. Homer needs some Honeycutt love. If he gets it he might be a decent bullpen piece. I’m still considering the idea of taking him on to get prospects Cleveland may be interested in. I believe there might be something there.

    1. In my opinion our offensive problem is that we win one game 10-2 and lose the next 2-1. I’m not a huge fan of run differential numbers. I’d like to see someone come up with a different way to measure how well a team uses its runs. If you play a three game series and the final scores are 10-2, 1-2, and 0-1 you have a run differential of +6 but you’ve lost the series.

      1. Good points.

        Run differential like ours should have produced more than 92 wins. I believe 26 BLSV’s, tied for 4th highest in MLB, might have had something to do with that win total. Sure had something to do with the last 2 World Series’.

  11. The Hot Air winter meetings are over. Now according to some sources, notice how they never say who, the real off season begins. Job 1. Find a taker for Marr Kemp. He who was the best hitter with runners in scoring position on the team this year. Reason, too much money being paid. Job 2. Find a catcher to bridge the 1 year before Will Smith is projected to be able to start and Kiebert Ruiz is ready for MLB time. Options. Trade for Cervelli, looking more like a possibility, sign a free agent, aka Hundley or Ramos, Hundley a possibility, Ramos wants 3 years, not happening. Job 3. Add a few more BP arms. Most possible since the free agent pool if full of them. Job 4. Unclog the outfield by trading Kemp, Puig or who ever to open up a spot for, Job 5. Deciding whether or not it is financially responsible to sign Harper. Not likely if they continue to want a 10 year deal. I think they are waiting to see if they will sign a contract for a shorter term, more up front money and maybe a Zack Greinke like opt out clause. Just my opinion there guys, but to me that’s what all this looks like.

    1. Keep it simple. Get a catcher. Figure out second base. Add a premier 4+ WAR player. Done until deadline.

      I have my ideas, already expressed, on how to do all that.



      1. I sincerely hope you are wrong about Harper. That would be the worst signing. I don’t care how good you are it’s not worth $300 million. Maybe, MAYBE for Mike Trout but not Harper.

  12. Sounds like the Dodgers badly overpaid for Joe Kelly and basically bid against themselves. We were the only team to offer him 3 years and the next closest offer was the Red Sox with 2 years and $12-14 million. We could have landed another decent reliever with those savings.

    1. If he pitches all year the way he did against us in the WS we got a huge bargain. If he pitches the way he did in a number of other months………………………………..yikes. As a GM, you never really know what offers the player has received while you’re dealing with him since you can’t really believe everything the agent tells you. Andrew could have played games and tried to lowball him but we’ve all been screaming that we need some bp help so he rolled the dice. Also, we have no clue what guys like Miller, Britton and Ottavino are asking or getting in offers. Kelly wouldn’t have been my first choice but I’m glad we signed him, even if we paid more than we had to.

  13. I’m pretty sure Friedman will wake up from his hangover and release Kelly to get down to the 40 man limit.

  14. We’ve been crying for a bridge to Jansen since last winter when Andrew didn’t resign Morrow, he seem to know what he was doing by staying away from that contract, so I am going to assume he knows what he is doing with this signing. I like how you simplified everything bear, the only thing you missed is second base, are we using in house options ( Taylor, Muncy, Kiki) or are they going to make a free agent signing, or trade.

    1. Unless you are going for a huge upgrade like Merrifield I just don’t see how LeMahieu or Jed Lowrie and those types are that much of an upgrade on Taylor. I think Andy believes he can tweak LeMahieu a bit and unlock some hidden potential which is fine but I wouldn’t go trading assets for anyone other than Merrifield or maybe Gennett.

      1. Second base has been handled. I traded Puig, maybe Taylor, for him. You’ll thank me later.

        Harper wanted out of DC. I don’t blame him. Everyone in that town is bat sh*t crazy. He wants to play in LA. Give him 8 and $260M with and opt out after 5. That takes him to age 34 with an opt out at age 31. He can make a few million a year easy in endorsements in LA. Give the man what he wants – a Dodger uniform.

        I’m not saying I would do that. I’m thinking Friedman just might.

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