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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Can’t Say That Joe Kelly Will Be Ready By Opening Day

A little uncertainly around one of the more expensive bullpen arms.



It’s not a stretch to say that the Dodgers have not gotten quite what they paid for out of Joe Kelly. Initially signed to a 3-year deal worth $25 million, Kelly has not had the impact that he had against the team during the 2018 World Series.

Entering perhaps the final year of his contract, Kelly has some work ahead of him. He was a limited participant in the first week of Spring camp and spent time away from the team with an illness when games started. The Dodgers have not specified the injuries that have limited early on, but there is not a timetable for him to get into games. 

Dave Roberts further complicated his status today when he said that he could not say that Kelly would be ready for Opening Day. On the bright side, he also could not say that he would NOT be ready for the Dodgers’ first game of the season in Colorado. 

Related: David Price Not Guaranteed a Spot in the Dodgers Rotation

Regardless, the fact that Kelly doesn’t even have a timeline for game action is a bit of a concern. The Dodgers can get by without him at all this season, but having him in the bullpen is ideal. Kelly is set to make $8.5 million in the last year of his deal, though he does carry a $12 million team option in 2022. 

The Dodgers are not expected to pick up that option barring a crazy good season out of Kelly. His departure paired with Kenley Jansen’s expiring contract will free up a ton of money in the bullpen after 2021. 

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Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

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  1. Although I’d really like to see him earn his keep, Kelly opening the season on the DL would provide an opportunity for one of the many other deserving relief pitchers. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Santana for example or one of the comeback vets.

  2. I can’t think of a single stretch of time, since Kelley came to the Dodgers, when I really felt like Kelley was “ready”.

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