12:20pm: Kelley is drawing interest from roughly 10 teams, including the Reds, per Jon Heyman of Fancred.
11:32am: The Red Sox and free-agent reliever Shawn Kelley “have been in contact,” Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reports. Meanwhile, Boston is unlikely to sign either Sergio Romo or Adam Warren in free agency, Cotillo hears.
With Joe Kelly having signed with the Dodgers and Craig Kimbrel currently a free agent, acquiring bullpen help is likely the Red Sox’s top priority at the moment. But president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has suggested the reigning world champions aren’t going to splurge on a reliever, which means their union with Kimbrel could be over. Kelley would represent both a far more affordable but less exciting option, on the other hand, and could give the club a solid late-game arm for a low cost.
While Kelley has experienced some down seasons during his career, the journeyman has typically performed well in recent years. In 2018, which he split between the Nationals and Athletics, Kelley overcame tumbling velocity to post a 2.94 ERA/3.71 FIP and register 9.18 K/9 against 2.02 BB/9 across 49 innings. He did log an unappealing groundball rate (30.2 percent), however, which has been the case throughout his career. Kelley also saw his Nats tenure end unceremoniously when the team designated him for assignment Aug. 1, a day after he allowed a home run and slammed his glove to the ground during a 25-4 loss to the Mets. Upon designating Kelley, general manager Mike Rizzo noted, “If you’re not in, you’re in the way.”
Even though his Washington stint concluded in embarrassing fashion, Kelley was unfazed in Oakland, where he put up tremendous results in a 16 2/3-inning span. The Red Sox will hope for more of that from Kelley if they sign him, though they’re no doubt mindful it would be risky to count on the right-hander. After all, Kelley’s a soon-to-be 35-year-old with a pair of Tommy John surgeries under his belt, and he’s only two seasons removed from recording a hideous 7.27 ERA in 26 frames.