Joe Kelly

Five Red Sox bullpen targets in free agency

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Five Red Sox bullpen targets in free agency

The Red Sox’ offseason forays are likely to be focused on pitching, unless they decide to reshape their offense with an eye on perhaps setting themselves up for the future with players who are further away from free agency — and there’s no indication they’re going to act that way. The Sox could be in a position to wait out some relievers as well, although president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has been known to move quickly when he has a target. But he first, of course, has to have a target.

Here — speculatively, and in no particular order — are five free agents the Red Sox could make a run at as they fill out a bullpen that may lose Craig Kimbrel.

1. Adam Ottavino. Take the Brooklyn kid and bring him to Boston. As far as upside goes, Ottavino has as much as anyone. Entering his age-33 season, the righty struck out 13 per nine innings in 2018. His walks can be problematic, and the Sox would hope that he’d perform more like he did in the first half this year with the Rockies (1.62 ERA, 18 walks, 44 1/3 innings) than the second (3.51 ERA, 18 walks, 33 1/3 innings).

2. Kelvin Herrera. Had the Red Sox lost the World Series, we could be talking about Herrera as the one who got away — and also, maybe, a crisis averted. The Sox had a deal with the Nats for the hard-throwing righty at the trade deadline, and Nats ownership decided not to move him. Shortly after the deadline, Herrera tore a ligament in his left foot. Who knows what would have happened had the Sox acquired him, but if they’re losing one power arm in Craig Kimbrel, Herrera is a way to replace at least the velocity. His fastball sits at 97 mph.  

3. Zach Britton. For two years now, Zach Britton’s been walking a lot of hitters, more than four per nine innings. If the Red Sox think they can help him cut those down, then entering his age-31 season, he almost represents a potential buy-low candidate. Plus, he’s at least familiar with the division.

4. Jeurys Familia. Familia isn’t the best relief option out there but he does represent something of a known quantity. At 29, he’s also on the younger side among the more established names being thrown around, with closer experience.

5. Joe Kelly. He’s not under the radar. But Kelly wants to be in Boston and the Sox want him back, and the sides have been in touch. There’s a greater likelihood that the Sox and Kelly get something done than the Sox and Kimbrel, and a reprise feels like a natural move after Kelly grew in Boston — his fan base grew as well, following a fun night with Tyler Austin.

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Dave Dombrowski discusses free agency of Eovaldi, Kimbrel, and Kelly

Dave Dombrowski discusses free agency of Eovaldi, Kimbrel, and Kelly

BOSTON — Dave Dombrowski offered little insight Monday into how he plans to navigate the pitching market this offseason.

The Sox may lose key starter Nate Eovaldi to free agency, at which point, they could feel a need to add another starter. They also can lose a pair of top relievers, Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel.

“We feel comfortable with the way it is now,” Dombrowski said of the rotation. “That’s not to say that it can’t get better. But we have four established guys right now that pitch for us in [Chris] Sale, [David] Price, [Rick] Porcello and [Eduardo] Rodriguez.”

Dombrowski noted Steven Wright could be a starter or reliever, and mentioned Hector Velazquez and Brian Johnson as possibilities for the rotation as well. 

“So there’s a comfort zone,” Dombrowski said. “But you’re kind of open to seeing if you can make yourself better. If it’s starting rotation, bullpen, both, we’ll just kind of keep an open mind as we go through... I don’t know that a lot of guys are moving forward real fast.”

Dombrowski said the team has been in touch with the reps for Kimbrel and Kelly. (Eovaldi and Kelly have the same agency.)

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Joe Kelly hopes to stay with Red Sox for rest of his career

Joe Kelly hopes to stay with Red Sox for rest of his career

Joe Kelly had an up-and-down 2018 season with the Red Sox. 

He started the season strong, solidifying himself as a key set up artist for closer Craig Kimbrel. But then he fell off to the point where Red Sox fans did not know if they could count on him in the postseason. 

Kelly finished the year with a 4.39 ERA, only to become one of the best relievers in baseball during the playoffs. In 11.1 innings, Kelly posted a 1.59 ERA with 16 strikeouts. 

Now, the 30-year old right hander is a free agent due for a considerable pay day. Howwever, Kelly told Jim Rome he doesn't see himself playing anywhere other than Boston. 

I love being apart of the team and the coaching staff we have... Everyone gets along so well and I don’t even feel like a free agent, I still feel like a part of the Boston Red Sox. It's a place I feel like I’m going to be the rest of my career. Free agency is going to be fun to see what teams are interested in me, but hopefully I can be a Red Sox for the rest of my career. 

We don't know if the Red Sox plan to spend the money necessary on Kelly or if Kimbrel's sitation will be the deciding factor in Kelly coming back, but at least we know where the releiver wants to be. 

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