The Dodgers have signed right-hander Keone Kela to a minor league deal, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. The deal is listed as taking place on August 31, which is significant as 11:59pm ET on August 31 was the postseason eligibility cutoff. Those within an organization but not on the 40-man at the start of September can still be added to the postseason roster to replace a player on the injured list via petition to the commissioner’s office.
Kela, 29, has spent time with the Rangers, Pirates and Padres in his MLB career. Since debuting in 2015, he’s thrown 227 1/3 innings with a 3.33 ERA, 29.9% strikeout rate, 9.2% walk rate and 43.8% ground ball rate. He’s often been trusted with high leverage situations as well, having racked up 28 saves and 59 holds in his career.
Unfortunately, health issues have slowed him down in recent years. In 2020, a positive COVID test and forearm tightness limited him to just two innings on the season. Last year, he logged 10 2/3 frames before requiring Tommy John surgery in May. He signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks for this season and returned to the mound in July. He threw 12 innings between Arizona’s Complex League team and the Triple-A Reno Aces. He was released and latched on with the Dodgers last week.
It’s been a few years since Kela has been able to be effective over an extended stretch, but he threw 29 2/3 innings for the Pirates in 2019 with a 2.12 ERA. If his return to game action after his lengthy layoff goes well, he could be an option for a Dodgers team that has the best record in baseball and is cruising into the postseason. That’s despite a bevy of injuries to the pitching staff, as the club currently has 10 hurlers on the IL. If they should need a fresh arm to join the team down the stretch or in the playoffs, Kela could provide them with an intriguing option.