Joe Kelly is hitting free agency for the first time in his career, but he doesn’t exactly feel like a guy on the open market.
The hard-throwing right-hander dazzled in the postseason as the Boston Red Sox won the 2018 World Series. His impressive showing this October came on the heels of a campaign where he was thoroughly dominant for some stretches, but dreadful in others.
However, with quality late-inning arms being in high demand, Kelly is sure to get plenty of suitors, especially with the way he wrapped up his most recent campaign.
But in an interview Monday with Jim Rome, Kelly said he hardly feels like a free agent because, well, he still feels like he’s a member of the Red Sox. And while that’s understandable, he took it a step further by stating he would enjoy remaining with the Red Sox the rest of his career.
Here’s the full transcript of his conversation with Rome.
I love being a part of the team and, like I said, the coaching staff that we have, it’s going to be hard to ever find something like that again at a Major League level, at the professional level. Because it almost feels like the old travel ball days where you grew up with the team for multiple years where you stay the night at each other’s houses, you’re eating dinner with their parents. And on the Red Sox it’s kind of one of those things, like we’re so close. There’s nights where we get 14, 15 guys on the team to play the exact same video game and we’ll play for three hours after a game, like we’re just that close. We go to dinners, we hang out, our families like each other and at the professional level, the big league level that’s not always the case where the families and all the wives get along, (but) everyone gets along so well.
It’s one of those things where I don’t even feel like a free agent because I still feel like I’m a part of the Boston Red Sox. I still feel like that’s where I’m going to be for the rest of my career. When people bring up free agency it’s like, ‘oh crap, I am a free agent.’ And I happened to pitch well in the postseason and now teams are going to want me to play for their team. It’s one of those things where it still — I just got back to California a couple days ago, my wife just drove in with our dogs from Boston, she made a long three day drive, which God bless her heart — So it’s one of those things where we just got back, so free agency right now is just me just coming back to California, just relaxing, having a good time with my family. Like I said deep down inside I still feel like I’m on the Red Sox even though technically I’m not. So it’s one of those things, it’s going to be fun to see what teams are interested in me, and hopefully I can be a Red Sox though the rest of my career.
Kelly has experience as both a starter and reliever, and he very well could receive interest in both roles. And while it must be encouraging for the Red Sox and their fans that he’d like to continue calling Boston home, the business side of things certainly makes this a wait-and-see scenario.