Boston Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly says that a phone call from manager John Farrell eased his concerns that he may be traded.
Relax, Joe Kelly. You’re not going anywhere.
The 27-year old right-hander had his doubts regarding his future with the Boston Red Sox as he watched new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski overhaul the team’s pitching staff. The free agent signing of David Price provided the Red Sox with the ace they lacked a year ago, but also left the team with a crowded rotation.
Too many starters, not enough spots. Shipping Wade Miley to the Seattle Mariners thinned the competition at the back of the rotation, but it still leaves the Red Sox with at least six viable starters. The trade also added depth to the bullpen with Carson Smith heading to Boston, leaving less room for Kelly to make the roster as a reliever if he can’t crack the rotation.
Kelly became concerned that he may end up as the odd man out, while his anxiety only increased when rumors began to surface that other teams were interested in trading for him. An uncertain future would be enough to rattle most players, but it only took one phone call to put Kelly’s mind at ease.
"“There was a point and time in the offseason that I thought there was a possibility of me being on another team next year,” Kelly revealed to Rob Bradford on WEEI’s Bradfo Show podcast. “But close to the deadline I got a call from John Farrell and he told me I wasn’t going anywhere. He said he knew my name was being thrown out there and that was just from other clubs. They put my name out there to see what fish would bite.”"
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There was bound to be teams interested in kicking the tires on Kelly after he ripped off eight straight wins in the second half of last season, while compiling a 3.00 ERA from August 1 through mid-September when the Red Sox shut him down. Kelly has always been a tantalizing talent with a blazing fastball that entices scouts with his potential, if only he could put it all together on the mound consistently. If his impressive late-season run convinced other teams that he was ready to make that leap, perhaps the Red Sox would look to sell high.
That doesn’t appear to be the case, at least from what Kelly has been told. While the front office will continue to listen to anything that crosses Dombrowski’s desk, the team isn’t actively shopping Kelly. Having been in this position before, it must be satisfying for him to know where he stands with the organization. Kelly discussed being blindsided when the St. Louis Cardinals traded him to Boston mid-way through the 2014 season and he isn’t eager to relive that experience.
"“Knowing that I wasn’t going to be traded, it was a level of comfort and respect on both sides,” explained Kelly. “It just goes to show that the front office that we have is very, very smart and understanding of both sides.”"
The courtesy of keeping him in the loop of any discussions that may involve him allows Kelly to focus on preparing for the season rather than worrying about trade rumors. He’s expected to fight for the No. 5 spot in the rotation this spring, with Henry Owens being his primary competition. If the young lefty beats him for that spot then Kelly could still end up in the bullpen, where he would be free to unleash his fastball in shorter stints.
If Kelly doesn’t fit in the rotation and shows he is unable to thrive as a reliever then a trade somewhere down the line could become inevitable. At least if it does happen then Kelly can now be confident that being dealt to another team won’t take him by surprise this time.