The offseason started with the idea that there would be a seismic shift roster wise for the Dodgers. That was immediately proven true after long-time shortstop Corey Seager left LA for the bag in Texas. With Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, and Joe Kelly among the Dodgers still on the (frozen) open market, more change is likely not too far away for the boys in blue.
Focusing on the Joe Kelly part of it — let’s be fair, Kershaw and Jansen have been discussed ad naseam this winter — the writing may already be on the wall that the Dodgers are ready to move on from the flamethrowing reliever.
First, the club declined a $12 million option for the 2022 season, opting to pay a buyout and send him out into free agency. Since then, LA added free agent right-hander Dan Hudson to the bullpen on a one-year, $8 million deal. Hudson profiles similarly to Kelly stuff wise, with a high-velocity fastball sitting in the 96-98 mile-per-hour range paired with an above-average slider.
So, the Dodgers brought in a leverage right-handed reliever with closing experience and playoff success. All at a cheaper cost, mind you.
Beyond Hudson, the bullpen will be adding 2020-2021 offseason signing Tommy Kahnle to the list of healthy relievers this coming season. Kahnle joined the Dodgers on a two-year pact soon after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The 32-year-old righty is another fastball/changeup type of guy that further fills the void left by Kelly.
Last night’s performance showed us how significant of a loss Tommy Kahnle was to our bullpen. He gave our relief staff length, that change up fooling righties and lefties alike. He was the perfect bridge to Chapman. TJ just sucks. pic.twitter.com/5q4LvYh0sX
— Yankee Alex ? (@YankeeAlex_) October 1, 2020
Finally, after an up and down year in 2021, Brusdar Graterol figures prominently in LA’s plans in 2022. The fireballer worked hard on the command of his slider last season and became a weapon for the Dodgers late in the season and into October. Another year older and wiser, the Bazooka figures to be a cost-effective asset in the bullpen following the departure of Kelly.
Adding it All Up
Put this all together and add in the club’s need to trim payroll in creative ways and it just doesn’t equal up to a return engagement for Joseph Kelly. The 33-year-old compiled a 7-4 record with a 3.59 ERA over 115 games with the Dodgers. Good but not great numbers. In this market, that’s still sure to fetch the reliever a handsome payday elsewhere around the league.
Dodgers Decline Joe Kelly’s Option for 2022, Will LA Re-Sign Him, Did he Live up to Contract?
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