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Source: Joe Kelly, on the cusp of returning to Dodgers

Source: Joe Kelly, on the cusp of returning to Dodgers

Reliever Joe Kelly is nearing a deal to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a source told ESPN on Saturday, confirming multiple reports.


Reliever Joe Kelly is nearing a deal to return to the Los Angeles Dodgers, a source told ESPN on Saturday, confirming multiple reports.

The deal, which is pending the completion of a physical, is expected to be for one year, according to the New York Post. The deal was first reported by FanSided.

Kelly, 35, is heading into his third stint with the Dodgers. He originally joined them on a three-year, $25 million contract in December 2018 and was a key figure on the 2020 team that finished the COVID-shortened season with a championship. The Dodgers acquired Kelly in a midseason trade with the Chicago White Sox last summer, using him as a reliever down the stretch.

Kelly can hit triple figures and hit a lot of hits, but he can also be erratic, making him a wild card. He became a full-time reliever in 2017 and has since posted a 3.98 ERA with 354 strikeouts in 305⅓ innings, but he also has the 10th-highest walk percentage among those with at least 300 appearances in that stretch.

He dominated the Boston Red Sox bullpen during the World Series in 2018 and was particularly productive during the 2021 season posting a 2.86 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. His ERA has risen to 5.07 in 85 appearances over the past two years, but he has become a beloved figure in Los Angeles. His scowling face after hitting Carlos Correa was photographed amid the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, and the mariachi jacket he wore during the Dodgers’ visit to the White House was photographed around town.

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Kelly joins a strong bullpen mix led by Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol and left-hander Caleb Ferguson. The Dodgers have also been encouraged by Blake Treinen’s health following shoulder surgery.