Source: Dodgers to add reliever Kelly

December 13th, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers bolstered their bullpen late Wednesday night by reaching an agreement with free-agent right-handed reliever Joe Kelly on a three-year, $25 million deal, pending a physical exam, a source confirmed to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

The club did not confirm the report.

Kelly, 30, is a Southern California native who helped the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series in October. In the regular season, he was 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA and 1.355 WHIP. He appeared in 73 games, fourth in the American League. Boston acquired him from the Cardinals in a midseason trade in 2014.

Against the Dodgers in the World Series, Kelly appeared in all five games, pitching six scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts. Kelly allowed one run in 11 1/3 postseason innings. He relies on a fastball that averaged 98.1 mph last season.

The Dodgers see Kelly as the latest candidate to help fill the traditional setup role for closer . He will be the first outside free-agent reliever the Dodgers have signed to a three-year contract.

Kelly has only two Major League saves, but he provides an additional bullpen arm to start the season with Jansen coming off a second heart procedure last month. Jansen, who is expected to be healthy for the start of Spring Training, has an opt-out from his contract after the 2019 season.

A year ago, the Dodgers signed another converted starting pitcher, Tom Koehler, to help be a bullpen bridge to Jansen, but he blew out his shoulder in Spring Training and never pitched for the Dodgers. The setup role fell to a committee that included , , , , JT Chargois and Josh Fields.

Dodgers fans might remember Kelly as a St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher whose 2013 pitch broke the ribs of Dodgers shortstop and changed the trajectory of the 2013 National League Championship Series. He has been primarily a reliever since returning from a right shoulder impingement in 2016.

Kelly is among the first few relievers to sign out of a slow-moving bullpen market. A number of teams were rumored to be interested in him, including the Red Sox, especially now that it appears they won't be bringing back closer .

In 2018, Kelly was suspended for six games for hitting Yankees with an apparently retaliatory pitch and triggering a bench-clearing brawl. During the suspension he watched one game from the bleachers at Fenway Park.