What Joe Kelly did to help the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series may also be the reason he's not staying in Boston.
Kelly has agreed to a three-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth about $25 million, NBC Sports Boston's Evan Drellich confirmed via a source late Wednesday night.
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And while the Red Sox also wanted to re-sign Kelly, they weren't willing to match the Dodgers' price, according to this report from WEEI.com's Rob Bradford:
According to a major league source, Los Angeles out-bid the Red Sox by a significant margin, with Boston never willing to go past two years for the 30-year-old reliever. The Dodgers deal ultimately landed at three years, $25 million.
It appears that third year was the sticking point for Boston. The average salary of the Red Sox's two-year proposal also was believed to be lower than L.A.'s, Bradford reported.
Kelly's $8.3 million per year indeed is a significant raise from the $2.6 million he earned with the Sox in 2018. He didn't pitch all that well in the regular season, either, posting a 4.39 ERA over 65 2/3 innings pitched.
But the 30-year-old was nails when it mattered most, allowing just one run over 17 2/3 innings pitched in the postseason while striking out 17 batters and walking no one. The Dodgers got a first-hand look at his dominance, as Kelly struck out 10 L.A. batters over six shutout innings while pitching in all five games of the 2018 World Series.
What followed this offseason, per Bradford, was a three-hour meeting with Dodgers president Andrew Friedman last Friday that left Kelly "impressed with how Los Angeles viewed the pitcher's evolution, future and predicted role."
The Red Sox weren't willing to overspend on the right-hander, and with Craig Kimbrel also seeking a hefty contract in free agency, Boston may have to look elsewhere to bolster its bullpen for the 2019 season.
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