Joe Kelly contract details: Dodgers add to bullpen in big way

San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants v Los Angeles Dodgers / Jayne Kamin-Oncea/GettyImages

Free-agent reliever Joe Kelly and the Los Angeles Dodgers are very close to an agreement on a contract, according to sources familiar with the situation. A deal is expected to get done soon.

It would mark Kelly’s third stint with the Dodgers. Kelly, 35, was a key part of Los Angeles’ bullpen from 2019-21 before ultimately leaving for the Chicago White Sox. He was dealt back to Los Angeles at the 2023 trade deadline and, while he missed time with right forearm inflammation, he produced a strong 1.74 ERA in 11 appearances.

The Dodgers ultimately declined his $9.5 million club option entering the 2024 offseason. But the team remained in contact with Kelly, sources said, and are close to keeping a key right-handed arm in the bullpen.

Joe Kelly contract details: Dodgers bring back familiar face to bullpen

It’s the first move in what will be a busy offseason for the Dodgers, where they are prominently in the mix for superstar two-way player Shohei Ohtani who’s expected to command a contract in the $500-600 million range. 

But the Dodgers’ offseason questions extend far beyond Ohtani. They need to address the rotation and have explored adding multiple arms, with right-handers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Lucas Giolito being of interest. They could explore adding a left-handed bat.

They also could explore another infield bat, and the Brewers’ Willy Adames is a player Los Angeles has shown previous interest in. But it remains unknown if Milwaukee would trade Adames, who is a free agent at the end of the 2024 season.

Kelly would mark the Dodgers’ third move this winter, with extending Max Muncy and re-signing Jason Heyward being the others. All indications are that the team remains active in both the trade and free-agent markets, with President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman telling reporters on Friday, “right now, things are building momentum in a lot of different areas.”

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