Joe Kelly is leaving Boston to return to Los Angeles, and that should be in everybody’s best interest.
Even though the 2018 season saw a brief rise in popularity for Joe Kelly among Boston Red Sox fans (mostly due to an intense Fenway Park brawl with Tyler Austin, who was with the New York Yankees at the time), re-signing the 30-year-old right handed reliever would’ve been a risk not really worth taking for the Red Sox.
Kelly hit free agency after four and a half seasons in Boston, which culminated with him winning his first ever World Series championship in 2018. Seeking an opportunity to get paid as he heads into the latter half of his Major League career, Kelly opted to take his talents back to southern California — where he grew up and played high school and college baseball — by signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The deal is worth $25 million over three years. Ironically enough, the Dodgers are the team that Kelly’s Red Sox just defeated in the World Series a little under two months ago.
It’s a great opportunity for Kelly to get back to his homeland, and it’s good for the Red Sox that they held off on splurging to keep Kelly around. While he could be a fun and entertaining guy to root for — he could throw really hard, occasionally cracking triple digits on the radar gun, and his personality was almost comedic at times — he’s just not worth the money.
In four and a half seasons coming out of the bullpen for the Red Sox, only once did Kelly have an ERA under four. For much of his tenure in Boston, he could never fully be trusted on the mound, especially in a close game.
It was no different in 2018, as his ERA ballooned to 8.31 and higher in the second half of the year. In the postseason, however, Kelly hit the most dominant stretch of his career as he allowed just one run in 11.1 October innings, which included 13 strikeouts.
Against the Dodgers in the World Series, Kelly threw six relief innings of shutout baseball.
It was a treat for Boston fans to finally see Kelly come up big for their team on the biggest stage, and he’s leaving the city with a great memory of him. But considering his heavy struggles during his previous seasons with the Red Sox, he just wouldn’t have been a good investment for them to make going forward — especially when they have could potentially have the chance to sign ace Chris Sale to an extension.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, are hoping Kelly can recapture the magic that he showed them in the World Series. Their bullpen was ultimately their downfall this season, and they are hoping Kelly can help solidify that problem.
Ultimately, the deal should work out well for everyone. Kelly had run his course in Boston, and it was time for them to move on. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are getting some much-needed relief help, and Kelly gets to go back home.
It’s a win-win-win.