MLB Free Agency Rumors: Joe Kelly Had ‘Initial But Not Aggressive’ Discussions With Cardinals

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Prior to the MLB lockout beginning in December, the Los Angeles Dodgers declined the $12 million option for Joe Kelly and instead paid a $4 million buyout, which made him a free agent for the first time since 2018.

Kelly just completed his third and most successful season with the Dodgers as he posted a 2.86 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 0.98 WHIP in 44 innings pitched over 48 games. Nevertheless, the Dodgers seemingly made a financially-driven decision.

The right-hander was not among the free agents to sign a contract before the MLB lockout began, but he figures to receive plenty of interest once business resumes.

One of the teams who checked in on Kelly was the St. Louis Cardinals, but it seems it was more due diligence than a push to sign him, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

The Cardinals’ contact with Kelly was described as initial but not aggressive in the days leading up to the lockout.

The Cardinals selected Kelly in the third round of the 2009 MLB Draft and he pitched over parts of three seasons with the organization from 2012-14. Primarily used as a starter, Kelly went 17-14 with a 3.25, 3.99 FIP and 1.38 WHIP in 266 innings (68 games; 38 starts).

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has indicated the team will be in the mix to re-sign the 33-year-old. They presumably will explore doing so at below the $12 million salary Kelly was due to receive.

While the Cardinals are in the market for late-inning bullpen help, they have not shown much interest in fellow Dodgers free agent Kenly Jansen, who is expected to sign elsewhere this offseason.

Kelly leading ‘revolution’ to show baseball isn’t boring

With three-hour games and generally just short bursts of action, baseball has received growing criticism for being boring, but Kelly is out to break that narrative.

Kelly is part of a group that created the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” social media brand. Kelly and his friends “are on a mission to prove that baseball is awesome in so many ways.”

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