The Rangers’ surprise demotion of hard-throwing 23-year-old righty Keone Kela on Friday was due to the team’s unhappiness with how Kela behaved during a “B” game, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. The Rangers have evidently received trade calls about Kela, but they plan to keep him and are not planning to trade him at a discount.
A “B” game is a side Spring Training game in which statistics don’t count toward Cactus (or Grapefruit) League totals. Rosenthal doesn’t report the exact nature of Kela’s behavior, but notes that it upset many veteran Rangers players. He describes the demotion as “a trip to the penalty box,” so although it’s unclear when Kela will return to the Rangers, it seems reasonable to guess he’ll be back at some point.
Kela had a terrific rookie season in the Rangers’ bullpen in 2015, posting a 2.39 ERA, 10.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 over 60 1/3 innings while throwing his fastball in the mid- to high 90s. He struggled despite an 11.9 K/9 in 34 innings in 2016, however, posting a 6.09 ERA and 4.5 BB/9 and missing a large chunk of the season after having surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow.