LAS VEGAS — Red Sox postseason hero Joe Kelly is signing with the Dodgers, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray of The Athletic. Kelly will reportedly sign a three-year, $25 million deal with Los Angeles.
Kelly, who made 182 appearances over five years with the Red Sox, is the first key member of the 2018 team to leave Boston. The Red Sox considered a reunion with Kelly and stayed in touch with him all winter, but the southern California native ultimately decided to head home and join the National League champions.
The Red Sox acquired Kelly at the 2014 trade deadline along with Allen Craig in a deal that sent John Lackey to the Cardinals. After struggling as a starter throughout 2015 and 2016, he was sent to the bullpen and was able to carve out a nice niche as a relief piece over the last two seasons.
Kelly’s up-and-down 2018 season made it uncertain that he would be on the postseason roster come October, but manager Alex Cora ultimately determined the righty’s impressive home run rate (0.5 HR/9) was reason enough to include him in the bullpen against the Yankees in the ALDS. Over the next month, Kelly became one of the Sox’ most trusted relief weapons, allowing one earned run on eight hits while striking out 13 in 11 1/3 innings.
In total, Kelly owned a 4.33 ERA and 8.0 K/9 in 41 starts and 141 relief appearances with the Red Sox, endearing himself to fans and teammates with his unique personality and memorable moments throughout his tenure. In mid-April, his brawl with Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin (and subsequent decision to serve his suspension sitting in the Fenway Park bleachers) inspired the “Joe Kelly Fight Club,” an early-season rallying cry for Boston.
Kelly was one of seven Red Sox free agents this offseason, along with Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce (who already re-signed) and Craig Kimbrel, Ian Kinsler, Drew Pomeranz and Brandon Phillips (who remain available). Boston is very active in the relief market and could make a move soon with both Kelly and Jeurys Familia (who agreed to re-join the Mets) coming off the board Wednesday night.
With Familia and Kelly off the board, there are many relief options available, including David Robertson, Adam Ottavino, Zach Britton and Andrew Miller.