Age on Opening Day 2016: 31
How acquired: Signed as free agent, December 2015
2016 salary: $4 million
2015 stats: 53 G, 51.1 IP, 2-2, 2.45 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 63 SO, 15 BB, 1.091 WHIP
2016 storyline: Coming off his best season in 2015 with the Padres, Kelley signed a three-year deal with the Nationals as part of Washington's effort to reshape its beleaguered bullpen. But with the influx of other newly-acquired relievers like Trevor Gott, Oliver Perez and Yusmeiro Petit, it remains to be see where Kelley fits in the relief corps' pecking order. The other unknown factor here is closer Jonathan Papelbon's future — GM Mike says is still with the Nats — which could be subject to change.
So what role will Kelley play? In his career he's been considered a versatile reliever who has experience as a long man, in setup situations and has even notched four saves.
Best-case scenario: The Nats signed Kelley with the hope he'd build on last season's solid performance. If he pitches like that again in 2016, could he be a key late-inning option? Outside of closer, no one really has a stranglehold on any role at this point. So if Kelley proves his worth early, it wouldn't be a surprise if Dusty Baker regularly calls upon him to pitch the eighth inning.
Worse-case scenario: Kelley's solid campaign with the Padres was preceded by a not-so-great stint with the Yankees — he had a ERA of 4.46 over two seasons with New York — so the fear for the Nats is that he regresses to what he was prior to last year.
Most-likely scenario: Projecting how a reliever like Kelley might perform with a different team is never an easy thing to do. There are a number of factors to consider: a new home ballpark, a different set of divisional foes and a yet-to-be-determined role in the bullpen, among other things.
That said, the folks over at Fangraphs project that Kelley will post a 2.94 ERA and a 2.57 FIP over 52 innings. Those stats aren't dominant for a reliever, but given what happened to the bullpen last year, the Nats would surely sign up for those numbers.