Joe Kelly made out in a big way early Thursday morning.
The former Boston Red Sox reliever, who midway through the season looked like he couldn’t get anyone out, was able to parlay a late-season turnaround into a reported $25 million from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Certainly, the life-long financial stability and the opportunity to go home to California are well-earned for Kelly, who was simply lights out during the Red Sox’s World Series run. That was especially true in the Fall Classic, when Kelly shoved against the Dodgers, appearing in all five games and pitching six scoreless innings.
For Boston, though, the quest to rebuild the bullpen continues. The Red Sox reportedly were interested in reuniting with Kelly. Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has hinted that the club was also unlikely to retain All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, although NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich recently reported the door isn’t totally closed on Kimbrel returning to Boston.
But if a team other than the Red Sox is willing to meet Kimbrel’s reported lofty demands, Boston will find itself in a place where it absolutely needs to replenish the relief corps. Perhaps no one stands to benefit more in that instance than free agent reliever Adam Ottavino.
The 32-year-old remains on the market, and as of Thursday morning, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi indicated the Red Sox — along with the Chicago White Sox — remain interested in the right-handed reliever. It probably also helps Ottavino’s case that another free agent reliever, Jeurys Familia, reportedly is heading back to a familiar place by agreeing to a three-year deal with the New York Mets.
Ottavino had a breakout 2018 season with the Colorado Rockies, appearing in 75 games, holding opponents to a .158 batting average. Ottavino, who transformed himself last offseason, also saw his strikeout totals spike, averaging 13 K’s per nine innings this past season.
At his best, Ottavino is able to do a lot of the things Kelly did for Boston. Ottavino mostly served as the Rockies’ eighth-inning reliever, but he also pitched nine times in the seventh inning and 17 times in the ninth inning. That sort of versatility is coveted in today’s game, especially given the Red Sox’s lack of an eighth-inning guy for much of last season.
Ottavino and his reps obviously know that, too, and they could be operating with a little more leverage now that Kelly is on his way to Los Angeles. It also doesn’t hurt his case that the New York Yankees might be lurking, too.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images