The move was initially announced last week, but today the Los Angeles Dodgers finally made it official, announcing the signing of relief pitcher Joe Kelly to a three-year contract. However, the team still has yet to announce a corresponding move to create a roster spot. Dennis covered what moves might be made to add Kelly to the 40-man on Tuesday. Fans are hoping that the front office is still working to make trades to make space and bring a catcher or another pitcher to the team, and that is the delay for the announcement of the corresponding move.
Details of Kelly’s three-year contract include $3 million in 2019 with a $3 million signing bonus and $8.5 million in both 2020 and 2021. He was also given a $12 million option or $4 million buyout in 2022, while being able to earn up to $2 million per year in incentives for games finished.
Kelly, 30, is 43-25 with a 3.87 ERA in 250 career major league games. 79 of those games were starts, spread over seven seasons with St. Louis and Boston. Dodger fans well remember Kelly as a starter when he plunked Hanley Ramirez in the first inning of the 2013 NLCS, breaking his rib and taking him out of the lineup for the rest of the series.
As a reliever, Kelly has posted a 3.29 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP, a .234 opponents’ batting average and 190 strikeouts in 194.0 innings in 171 games. In 21 career postseason relief appearances, Kelly has posted a 1.07 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP, while limiting opposing hitters to a .189 batting average. In 2018, Kelly went 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA and two saves in 73 relief appearances with Boston. He was a key contributor for the Red Sox during their championship run after pitching in all five World Series games while not allowing a run and striking out 10 batters in 6.0 innings.
Dodger fans will be happy to overlook what he’s done against his new team as long as he pitches like he has in the 2018 postseason for the next three years. With the details of the contract now known, one could wonder if Kelly is the front office’s way of having an option if Jansen still has heart issues. Regardless, he will make a great addition to the bullpen, especially as a reliever with much postseason success.
Kelly was originally selected by St. Louis in the 3rd round of the 2009 MLB draft out of the University of California, Riverside, where he set the team’s career saves record (24). He attended Corona High School in Corona, California. Kelly will keep his number 56.