Merrill Kelly’s gem of an outing in Game 2 has made him the talk of baseball, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal took a look back at the right-hander’s unique path to the World Series stage. Beginning his career in the Rays’ farm system, Kelly signed with the KBO League’s SK Wyverns and spent four seasons pitching in South Korea, despite feeling an urge to return to North American baseball halfway through that stint. Still, pitching in the KBO League sparked Kelly’s career to the point that Diamondbacks had interest in a free agent deal during the 2018-19 offseason, and Kelly signed a two-year, $5.5MM deal with club options attached for 2021 and 2022.
This was the only multi-year offer Kelly received that winter, so he jumped at the chance at some extra security as he made his MLB debut at age 30. Between that initial contract and a subsequent extension signed prior to the 2022 season, Kelly’s time in Arizona has now included five seasons, at least $32.5MM in guaranteed salary, and now a key role in the postseason. Kelly has a 2.25 ERA over four starts and 24 innings in these playoffs, and holds an interesting distinction as the first pitcher to earn a win in both the Korean Series (helping the Wyverns capture the 2018 title) and the World Series.
Some more from around the NL West….
- Before the Diamondbacks picked up Tommy Pham from the Mets at the trade deadline, the Dodgers were known to be one of several other teams who considered acquiring the veteran outfielder. Pham told Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times that he wanted to join the Dodgers last offseason, but president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman twice turned down overtures from Pham’s agent, as L.A. was focused on adding a left-handed hitting outfielder instead. David Peralta ended up being that lefty swinging outfielder, and while Peralta had a subpar season, Pham hit .256/.328/.446 over 481 combined PA with the Mets and D’Backs this season. Pham has continued to contribute during Arizona’s playoff run, including a four-hit night in Game 2 of the World Series.
- A.J. Preller’s management style as the Padres’ president of baseball operations has come under increased criticism due to the team’s disappointing 2023 season, as well as the reported discord between Preller and now-former manager Bob Melvin. Preller spoke with Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune and other reporters about what he is looking for in hiring the Padres’ next skipper, with Acee adding details and anecdotes within the piece related to Preller’s approach, his (to some, overbearing) attention to detail, and the communication breakdown that occurred between Preller and Melvin over the last year.