7:57pm: Kelly’s deal also contains a club option for 2024, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. The total value of the deal is $17MM in guaranteed money.
6:19pm: The White Sox have signed right-hander Joe Kelly to a two-year deal, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). The signing will become official when Kelly passes a physical. Kelly is represented by the ACES agency.
The White Sox are a somewhat surprising suitor for Kelly, having inked Kendall Graveman to a three-year, $24MM deal prior to the lockout. They’re also on the hook for a combined $29MM in 2022 for Liam Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel. Aaron Bummer is under contract as well, and Garrett Crochet may also work out of the bullpen. MLB.com’s Scott Merkin notes that the Kelly signing “could indicate a Kimbrel trade on the horizon, but White Sox are not just giving away Kimbrel.”
Kelly, 33, typically rates as one of the game’s hardest-throwing relievers, though every year more relievers are able to average 98 miles per hour as he does. In his three years with the Dodgers, Kelly boosted his strikeout rate, hitting 27.5% in 44 innings in 2021. In recent years, his control has generally fallen into the acceptable range of issuing free passes to 8% of batters. Kelly also posted a healthy 58.9% groundball rate last year, helping him allow only three home runs on the season.
Kelly played a key role for the Red Sox in the 2018 postseason, allowing one earned run in 11 1/3 frames. Kelly switched sides after helping the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the World Series, as Los Angeles signed him to a three-year, $25MM deal with a club option for 2022.
Kelly put up an unspectacular 2019 season for the Dodgers. He memorably earned a five-game suspension in the shortened 2020 season, also spending time on the shelf with shoulder inflammation before again helping his club win the World Series, though with not the same impact as he had for Boston. Kelly quietly underwent shoulder surgery that offseason, leading to a May 7 season debut in ’21. Kelly went on the COVID-IL in August of ’21, and later saw his season come to a close as he exited Game 5 of the NLCS with biceps tightness.
Faced with a $12MM club option or a $4MM buyout, the Dodgers chose the buyout. Though Kelly suggested mutual interest in a Dodgers reunion last month, he’ll instead join the White Sox bullpen. Kelly ranked seventh in the Dodgers’ bullpen in leverage index in 2021. Among those ranked ahead of him (used in more crucial situations), Kenley Jansen remains a free agent and Corey Knebel has signed with the Phillies. Blake Treinen, Alex Vesia, and Brusdar Graterol are holdovers, with Daniel Hudson joining as a free agent prior to the lockout. Tommy Kahnle is expected to pay some dividends after signing a two-year deal in December 2020 less than five months after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Kelly told 570 LA Sports at that time that he would “definitely be ready for the start of the season” after his NLCS biceps injury. The White Sox, widely expected to trade Kimbrel, have thus far only added a pair of right-handed relievers to their bullpen. Right around the same time tonight, the White Sox also bolstered their infield with the signing of Josh Harrison.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
TrumpChop+Charles Barkley's Guarantee
*insert Kelly’s tongue gif” at the Dodgers
Good signing by the White Sox. I thought the White Sox were going to trade Kimbrel before adding another big reliever to the bullpen if they did trade him.
The White Sox are trying to create the lights out bullpen The Atlanta Braves had to win the 2021 World Series.
That’s because Hahn is a copycat.
@SlickRick2310 I thought they tried making lights out bullpen last year with the cubs trades. Maybe better results this year.
SlickRick2310 — I’d say the White Sox have a far better bullpen going into this season than Atlanta. Very impressive signing.
? Do you think anyone has a problem with Joe Kelly leaving? Lmao
I’m a Dodgers fan and I am disappointed that he won’t be back. I was hoping for at least a one year prove it deal. Joe is from my hometown and will always have a special place with Dodgers fans. Glad that he’s getting paid and taking care of his family, hopefully one day he’ll come home and have some sort of role with the Dodgers in the future.
This is how I will feel when Freddie departs next week. Except he was not from my hometown Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann was though. Freddie still means a lot around here. I just remind myself this is a professional league and there will be an end of a tenure.
It’s not a given that he leaves if ATL gives him that sixth year. I hope he stays.
Honesty I hope he stays in ATL. As nice as it would be to have him on the Dodgers he’s not necessary. I don’t like moving Max off 1B and I’d like to see what Lux can do at the keystone. We really need another SP, especially with Bauer’s situation being up in the air. On top of all that it’s nice to see a guy spend his whole career with one team and he definitely means a lot to Braves Nation. I guess we’ll see how it unfolds but if the Braves don’t resign him I’ll take him if it means he doesn’t go to the Yankees lol.
Lux hasn’t proven anything yet. I like Freeman but depends on the contract. Moving Muncy to 2B increases Muncy’s bat value, and his glove is more than adequate at 2B. Also moves Taylor to platoon all over the field role, including 3B when Turner DHs, instead of a potentially more normal 2B role. Again that increase the roster value for the Dodgers. All at a significant cost.
We dodgers fan liked him a ton. But he was an adventure to watch sometimes.
50-50 that either side comes as serious winners or losers.
Dumpster Diving Rick
Starting to hope Correa signs with a AL Central team out there.
So Kelly can hide behind his teammates again?
@coupofthecentury- yes and stick his tongue out again.
Fight club. But all in all, good addition.
Craig Kimberly can pack his bags.
As long as Kimbrel stays, don’t care what happens to her
That’s what I thought as well.
I really need to disable Spellcheck.
Thought that was a chirp at first. Or are you being sarcastic now? Haha
Smooch the Goose Watson
Possibly the worst free agent signing of all time.
By who??? Kelly was fine in LA!
How can you say that without even knowing the price of the deal?
Smooch the Goose Watson
Joe Kelly is a writer for Ted Lasso and is almost 50 years old…
Was kind of hoping for a reunion in Boston. Joe Kelly was inconsistent but matured into a good to solid reliever. Would rather have him that Matt Barnes which is the $ measuring stick I’m using.
I wouldn’t mind him but he’s kind of a headcase to be honest.
I’m with you, dewey. Kelly would’ve been a great addition to the Sox bullpen and I’d rather have him than Barnes.
Stan "The Boy" Taylor
Good point, but RP is the best position for a headcase, he does have swagger.
I would take Kelly over Barnes myself even if he is a headcase.
These days any player with a personality is going to be called a head case by somebody.
Dumb take, goose. Kelly was really good, with few exceptions, in Los Angeles.
Smooch the Goose Watson
I’m just kidding fox, I like Kelly a lot for the White Sox. He’s got some very nice velocity and that bullpen has become an absolute monster. Curious to see what they do with Craigy Kimbrely.
I like Kelly. I hoped the Yankees would look his way if they were going to fill any BP roles. I like what Kelly does on the mound, normally, & his competitiveness.
Ducky Buckin Fent
That power RH reliever role in our pen seems capably filled: Green, Loaisiga, & all the Young Fireballers (Abreu, Medina, Ridings, etc.) I can see Cash trying to shoehorn another RH arm into the pen on principle or whatever. But I think that’s probably a pretty low priority.
Yeah, I don’t think they will. I was actually referring to what Buster Olney said he thinks the Yankees will focus on coming out of the lockout – the BP, which doesn’t make sense to me, but who knows.
You’re right though, we have quite a few guys that could fill that role on staff. He was one of the more successful FA RPs though, if Cash had gone in that direction.
Ducky Buckin Fent
Well, we know Cash loves relievers, man.
But our set up & bridge to Chapman is deep, proven, & good.
LH: Rodriguez, Luetge, Peralta
RH: Green, Loaisiga, Holmes & a fleet of young hard throwers
So. Where does one even fit unless you trade from existing stock? Which – outside of Justin Wilson – Cash doesn’t normally do. He put quite a bit a resources into switching our template from a “Big 3” endgame to a pen that goes 6+ deep akin to the Ray’s.
I struggle to see the “need” here, Clip.
Like I said, I could see Cash adding a reliever merely because he usually does. But other than that, I have no idea what Olney is talking about. Doesn’t make much sense.
@yankee Hope in one hand and cashman in the other. You been getting disappointed a lot today.
GM: Today? Lol, man, that’s true, but it’s been about 15 offseasons, save for a handful of them and 2009! If there’s one thing Cashman has done for me it’s almost always pulled through on disappointment….. At least he’s reliable.
This guy’s career is like an American flag. Red (Boston), White (Chicago) and Blue (Los Angeles)
Any chance of changing their name to the BIPOC Sox?
BP getting a little expensive.
Kimbrel is gone. My guess is the WS pay half the cost to move him out for a marginal return.
Nice. Good to see the White Sox address the gaping holes at 2b and RF with one move. First rule of fight club.
Kimbrel will get dealt for a 2B.
Flip flip flipadelphia
Nah, CWS just signed their 2B
@dogbone I hope its not for a 2022 starting 2b. Yikes.
Dogbone — Josh Harrison is the White Sox 2b.
Like this signing better than Harrison. If he can stay healthy anyway.
When your players start going down and realize there is no help coming from the farm system that Harrison signing is going to look much better.
south side hit men
I wonder if Crochet moves to the starting rotation if they can’t trade Kimbrel. Keuchel/Kopech/Crochet can rotate in the 4/5 spots since it doesn’t sound like they want to do a 6 man rotation.
Crochet is an exciting arm to watch, if he could handle the innings he’d make a fantastic starting pitcher. This isn’t pertaining to Crochet but my buddy and I were just discussing how we will probably never see another 300 game winner again. Not sure what the difference is nowadays but it just seems like these guys come in throwing gas and gnarly hooks and their arms don’t hold up for the long haul. Interesting to see how the Sox proceed with Kopech and Crochet, two guys that have disgusting stuff.
Damn, that bullpen’s gonna be lethal. I think they should keep Kimbrel and go 2015 Royals on the league.
No hurry to trade Kimbrel.
May be worth more at the trade deadline.
Or even just a few weeks into the season – if they’re really determined to trade him. Let him re-establish his dominant-closer form, if he can, before trying to cash him in.
If he pitches anything like the end of last season, the Sox will have to eat at least 1/3 of his contract and include a quality young MLB player to get a AA guy with little chance of making the majors….and that’s assuming they find a sucker FO.
Except for the fact that aside from the first half of 2021, Kimbrel has sucked the past 3 years.
L.A. will always hold a soft spot for Joe.
You did great in three years for us, thanks for that. Good luck in Chicago, Joe.
He’s going back to Tony.
Could the cards line up with the Sox on a kimbrel trade? Maybe zac Thompson and/or luken baker and cards take all kimbrels salary?
The sox couldn’t send in the paper work to the league office fast enough.
CWS BP is stacked. Nice Setup man for when Kimbrel is traded.
Mariachis in LA are saddened by this signing.
Someone needs to buy mlbtraderumors people a beer after all this
Kelly was inconsistent and hurt last season BUT when he’s on his stuff is nasty and un hittable at times! Solid pick up for White Sox if he can stay healthy, wish him the best. I say liked by Dodger fans
Ol’ Uncle Charlie
Dang it. Really wanted him back with the Cards. Would be such a good fit and the price is right for his #s.
Best of luck, Joe!
Awww… I wanted the Fight Club to come back to Boston
$17M/2 seems pricey.
Ol’ Uncle Charlie
I agree. I think $15/2 is the right number, but it’s still a good deal. And the CWS bullpen is so ridiculous now.
Yeah, that’s a bit much and likely why the Dodgers passed on him. Probably willing to take him at a lower price. His issue is that in any given game he can completely lose control of a pitch and becomes essentially a one pitch pitcher. Lately he had more issues controlling the 98-100 mph fastball. His breaking pitch became a very effective pitch but when you throw it almost every pitch if you lose control of the fastball, it becomes less effective. When he has command of both pitches he can be a very effective pitcher. But can you trust him to bring that command every outing?
Keep all 3 relievers and go for a title. Pitching is all bullpen these days
Great pickup. I see a lot of moves from different teams. Except for the Yankees.
Great pickup. I see a lot of moves from different teams. Except for the Yankees. They are to displined when we are of need of some spending
I think it’s a fine contract. Pretty much just maintains his salary of the past three years. I don’t think he should’ve been bought out and he wound up making more guaranteed money than the option, plus the buyout, so Kelly got the best of the situation. He’ll earn his $8.5M AAV…. especially if a “high upside” guy like Andrew Heaney also got $8.5M (!!!!!!)
These two moves are very solid for the White Sox. Harrison has experience at second base and in the outfield, particularly in right field. Harrison can play second while switching around Vaughn and Sheets.
Meanwhile, signing Kelly solidifies the bullpen. There is a good chance we can see the White Sox can use a six man starting rotation with Lynn, Giolito, Cease, Kuechel, Kopech and Lopez in the beginning of the season. Kuechel is the biggest question right now since he is pitching this year for the White Sox to pick up his option next season with reaching 160 innings this season. Keuchel can be good this year so its all lets wait and see how he performs. If not, it would not a shocker if the White Sox release Keuchel if he does not perform well early in the season.
In the meantime, it seems like the White Sox are not done wheeling and deal from now until the trade deadline.
would have liked to keep him around but that’s a nice contract for Joe
hope he tears it up in Chicago