Not sure it offsets the loss of Carlos Rodón on Friday, but the White Sox made two moves that broke late Saturday, signing Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly to a two-year contract and Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison for one year.
Kelly will be 34 in June, and while Steve Cishek and Craig Kimbrel might point out that inking relievers with 10 seasons of wear on them is an extremely dicey proposition, hey, at least Kelly isn’t coming from the Cubs.
The righthander is a Hawk Harrelson red-ass special, made even more dangerous by an ability to touch triple-digits with his fastball. In 2021 with the Dodgers, he put up a 2.86 ERA and 3.08 FIP in 48 games (44 innings), good for 0.7 WAR. That’s basically Reynaldo López ’21 value, and it’s notable that López hardly pitched for the White Sox in 2021.
In eight of Kelly’s 10 seasons in the bigs, he’s pitched in the playoffs, so on the bright side he should inherently bring some vet savvy to the South Side in October.
For those tempted to think that adding Kelly spells the end of Craig Kimbrel’s tenure in Chicago, what are you smoking? Kelly is part of the Rick Hahn All-Closers Plan and Kimbrel is an overpriced and untradeable (without eating some buxxxxx) veteran arm that the league has the White Sox over the barrel with, and never the twain shall meet.
Sniffing out that the Kelly deal is looking like two years and $17 million ... if so, that’s a fairly significant overpay for mid-30s setup man production. Perhaps the contract comes with a chin-jut bonus.
Worth noting, Kelly has had just one strong season pitching a semi-heavy load of 50-plus games, five years ago, for Boston; monitor whether, as he did with Kimbrel in 2021, Tony La Russa just decides to use Kelly how he wants, rather than how he should, because that is the key to Kelly’s boom-or-bust factor in Chicago.
It’s a matter of fact that Harrison followed Kelly almost back-to-back to the South Side.
Harrison’s deal runs for one year and $5.5 million.
The 11-year veteran will turn 35 at midseason, and like Kelley, Harrison hasn’t had a strong full season since 2017, when he put up 3.6 WAR for Pittsburgh. But Harrison is being paid barely-starter money, and thus this signing stands much less chance of going south. Whether it’s much of an upgrade to “incumbent starter” Leury García, oh, go ahead and debate that in the comments.
Oh, but wait, there’s a $1.5 million buyout for 2023, so scratch that, $7 million for a utility infielder isn’t coupon shopping, it’s stampeding past the market in order to sign Adam Eaton shopping. Oh well.
Harrison had a fantastic start to the 2021 season with the Washington Nationals, hitting .294/.366/.434 with 2.6 WAR in 90 games. But a playoff-push trade to the A’s flopped for Oakland, as Harrison dissolved into negative-WAR value. Here’s hoping it wasn’t a preview of coming attractions, but Harrison’s 2018-20 were played at sub-starter levels.
So, second base has been shopped for, and there will be no more bullpen acquisitions. Backup catcher seems not to be on the docket, and there simply aren’t any starters of note on the market (and those coming via trade, the White Sox have not the resources to acquire). Thus we await any possible minor trades (a big-thump, no-field player from the multitude of White Sox DHs to a National League club ill-equipped for the new DH era, perhaps?) or a splash in right field.
As for a RF splash, it would seem completely contingent on shedding Kimbrel’s full salary for a variety of nacho and sundae helmets. Eating any of Kimbrel’s salary, much less keeping him for 2022, would seemingly deliver Micker Adolfo to his rightful place as White Sox right fielder on Opening Day.
On to tomorrow, and White Sox spring training reporting day.