While it’s been almost a week since the news broke of the Dodgers signing righty reliever Joe Kelly, there still hasn’t been an formal announcement from the team, which indicates there is some kind of holdup making the contract official.
There may be delays with Kelly’s physical exam, or there could be more time needed to put into legal jargon the particulars of the deal. Some have even speculated that there may be a trade in the works, giving the Dodgers the opportunity to clear roster space without having to release any players.
As Andy mentioned in her column yesterday, some rumors—as unbelievable as they sound—are even swirling about Bryce Harper having agreed to a deal, but the Dodgers are “purportedly” trying to move some players before they make an announcement. This seems nonsensical to say the least, despite all signs pointing to the 26-year-old superstar outfielder “badly wanting to be a Dodger.”
Regardless, because the 40-man roster is currently full, the simplest way to create space for Kelly is to designate a player for assignment. If the club is unable to make room on the roster soon, this may be the avenue the front office decides to take.
There are lots of guesses as to which players might be on their way out. Rocky Gale comes to mind straightaway, although the team could be forced to keep him for his experience if no new catcher is acquired via free agency or trade before spring camp begins. Another name that continues to pop-up is Brock Stewart. The righty swing man is currently out of options and would need to be included on the team’s Opening Day 25-man roster if management wants him to stay around.
The 30-year-old Gale made a handful of appearances for the Dodgers last year after rosters expanded and has gone 2-for-22 in 17 big league games stretching over three seasons.
Stewart, 27, pitched in nine games as part of the frequent flyer program between Oklahoma City and Los Angeles last year when the disabled list was at its busiest point. In those nine games, the Illinois native posted a 6.11 ERA and a 6.38 FIP over 17-2/3 innings of work. For his career, he has tallied a 4.84 ERA and a 5.50 FIP over an even 80 innings and 33 appearances, 11 of which were starts.
Since the Kelly signing isn’t “officially” on the books, there is no hard deadline for his roster inclusion, so there isn’t any imaginable rush to make things formal. However, if the Dodgers were to make any subsequent moves as the winter progresses, the 40-man would need to be adjusted accordingly.