Source: Dodgers to add reliever Kelly
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 Kenley Jansen. 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 Pedro Baez, Scott Alexander, Dylan Floro, Ryan Madson, 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 Hanley Ramirez 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 Craig Kimbrel.
In 2018, Kelly was suspended for six games for hitting Yankees Christopher Austin with an apparently retaliatory pitch and triggering a bench-clearing brawl. During the suspension he watched one game from the bleachers at Fenway Park.