Kela, 24, opened the year on optional assignment after running afoul of teammates. That also cost him the opportunity to reach three full years of service, thus delaying his ultimate free agency, though Kela will still qualify for arbitration next year as a Super Two.
He has been quite good since returning to the majors, throwing 32 1/3 innings of 2.51 ERA ball while maintaining 12.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9. Shoulder soreness drove him to the DL for a stretch recently, so health is also a factor in his potential value.
4:20pm: The Rangers are shopping right-handed reliever Jeremy Jeffress, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter). It’s unclear at this point just where interest may lie, but it’s certainly plausible to imagine a number of organizations taking a look at the veteran hurler.
Jeffress, the former Brewers closer, was traded to Texas alongside Jonathan Lucroy at last year’s non-waiver deadline. But he has struggled in his new environs — particularly in 2017.
The 29-year-old righty has followed up last year’s 2.33 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 60.3 percent ground-ball rate with an unsightly 5.21 ERA through 38 frames. Jeffress’ strikeout rate remains nearly identical to his 2016 level, but his walk rate has spiked to 4.3 BB/9, his grounder rate is down to 54.9 percent, and his fastball velocity is down more than a mile per hour (though still at an average of 94.3 mph).
Jeffress was worked hard in April, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News recently noted, and then ultimately required a DL stay for a back injury in June. His health, then, appears to be at least partially in question, and interested teams will also need to weigh Jeffress’s DWI arrest last year.
There is, perhaps, both some near and long-term upside in the righty. If he can get back on his prior track, Jeffress might be of real use down the stretch. He’s earning only $2.1MM this year, so it won’t cost much in cash. And with two more years of arb control remaining, Jeffress has some potential future value as well.