Red Sox free-agent target – RP Joe Kelly
Now this would be fun. In his four and a half seasons in Boston, Joe Kelly was a fan-favorite among Red Sox fans. Not just for his clutch postseason pitching but also for his eccentric personality and his signature fight of Tyler Austin that unified the team during their championship run. Fans were heartbroken when Kelly departed after helping the Red Sox to their fourth World Series title in 15 years, moving west to the powerhouse Dodgers.
Four years later, the Red Sox have a chance to bring Kelly back. A reunion would be more than just a feel-good story. Kelly is still a valuable reliever. He’s coming off a season where he posted a 2.86 ERA and the lowest BB/9 ratio of his career. Kelly has always had the stuff of an elite reliever, and while he is still throwing as hard as ever (his 98.1 fastball velocity in 2021 was his highest as a Dodgers), it’s his improving control that makes him a dangerous weapon out of the bullpen.
You can never have enough pitching. That point became abundantly clear at the end of last season, when the declines of Adam Ottavino and Matt Barnes left Garrett Whitlock as the team’s only dependable reliever. Kelly, who allowed just one earned run in his 17 2/3 postseason innings with the Red Sox, has proven that he can come through in the biggest moments. Bringing him back to Boston would be a victory for all parties.