Joe Kelly has become a fan-favorite among the Dodgers fan base during his tenure with the team. The once longtime rival with the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox stole the hearts of fans with his unique personality. Whether he was mocking Carlos Correa or becoming Mariachi Joe, there was never a dull moment when he was around.
The Dodgers’ decision to decline his 2022 option and instead buy him out may have come as a shock to some fans. Yet, the move was always about saving money to spend in free agency with so many key guys possibly leaving and never about getting rid of him. In fact, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman spoke about wanting to bring him back.
“Joe is one of a kind. I love what he brings to a clubhouse. Awesome competitor. He’s another guy that we’ll very much be in the mix for. He and [his wife] Ashley get to go through and figure out what makes sense for them. We have a lot of balls in the air with really talented players that are free agents.”
Kelly suffered a bicep injury during game 5 of the NLCS and it was first thought that he wouldn’t be ready for the start of the 2022 season. However, his wife put any such thoughts to rest.
Joe finished out the 2021 season with a 2-0 record, a 2.86 ERA, and 50 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched. The Dodgers would surely love to retain him again for the future to help solidify the bullpen, especially if Kenley Jansen walks. Yet, it will be up to Kelly whether it’s the right move for his family and if the two sides can come to an agreement.