The Diamondbacks have released Carson Kelly, according to the transaction tracker at MLB.com. That was the expected outcome after Arizona designated him for assignment on Sunday. Kelly has over five years of major league service, so he could’ve refused a minor league assignment while retaining his salary in any event.
Kelly’s tenure with the D-Backs officially comes to a close. Acquired alongside Luke Weaver and Andrew Young in the lopsided Paul Goldschmidt trade, Kelly played parts of five seasons in the desert. He started reasonably well, hitting 18 home runs during the 2019 campaign and rebounding from a down shortened season with a strong .260/.385/.460 start through the first couple months in ’21.
An errant pitch fractured Kelly’s right wrist that June. He never seemed to fully recover, hitting .221/.297/.364 across 172 plate appearances down the stretch. He followed up with a middling .211/.282/.334 showing in 354 trips to the dish last season. The Diamondbacks nevertheless tendered him an arbitration contract but acquired Gabriel Moreno to take over as the primary backstop last winter.
Kelly’s efforts to solidify himself as the #2 option were again derailed by a hit-by-pitch. He broke his right arm in Spring Training and was out of action into the second week of June. Kelly appeared in 33 games over the last couple months but continued to scuffle, hitting .226/.283/.298 in 92 trips to the plate.
Arizona has elected to go with José Herrera as Moreno’s backup. Assuming Kelly clears release waivers, the Snakes will remain on the hook for the approximate $942K remaining on his $4.275MM salary. At that point, another team could add him for the prorated portion of the $720K league minimum through season’s end. If Kelly catches on elsewhere this season, he’d technically be eligible for arbitration for 2024, though he’d be a non-tender candidate in all likelihood.