2. Joe Kelly
Joe Kelly is far from the perfect candidate. Fans kind of hate him for his tenure with the Red Sox, but he redeemed himself by trolling the Astros in grand fashion. Another issue is that he’s rehabbing from a biceps injury suffered in the postseason with the Dodgers, and the fact LA didn’t pick up his option might speak to the severity of the ailment.
OK, so why not a one-year deal for Kelly so he can reestablish his value after the injury concern? Give him all the time he needs to get back to full strength (even though he’s expected to be ready for the start of the season) and then use him as a hybrid option like Britton was. Kelly was a fireman of sorts with the Dodgers and his electric fastball made the role almost perfect for him.
Entering his age-34 season, Kelly might be looking for a multi-year contract that pays him close to what he made in LA ($7-$8 million AAV), but with guys like Craig Kimbrel and Josh Hader potentially available via trade, it might not be the best time for the right-hander to play hardball (though, of course, we could be wrong because teams are always looking for above-average relief help).
The good news is that Kelly pocketed $4 million in his buyout with the Dodgers, so maybe (?) that lessens his demands? Either way, the Yankees should be willing to pay for a guy who throws a sinker, curve, fastball and changeup effectively in high-leverage situations. He’s in the top percentile for fastball velocity and curveball spin. He registered a sub-1.00 WHIP in 48 games (44 innings) and struck out 50 batters.
Hey, maybe even a multi-year deal here! Chapman, Britton and Green are free agents after 2022 and Luis Severino might be too. Kelly’s got a couple of years left and he’d be a valuable presence next year and beyond.