The Rangers are in agreement with right-handed reliever Shawn Kelley on a one-year, $2.5 million deal, according to a Monday evening report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan:
Free agent reliever Shawn Kelley and the Texas Rangers are in agreement on a one-year, $2.5 million contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 28, 2019
Kelley, 34, recovered nicely after getting DFA’d by the Nationals in early August following a glove-throwing tantrum. He ended up getting traded to the Athletics on August 5 and posted a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP over 16.2 innings down the stretch. Over 54 appearances for the year between Washington and Oakland, he had a 2.94 ERA with a 0.90 WHIP, 50 strikeouts, and 11 walks in 49 frames. He also threw a scoreless inning in the Athletics’ Wild Card game loss to the Yankees.
Intriguing 25-year-old right-hander Jose Leclerc, who struck out 85 batters and had a .126 opponent batting average over 59 games last year, is likely to serve as Texas’ closer. But in a bullpen that is otherwise mostly unproven, Kelley has a decent chance to get setup opportunities on a regular basis.
Texas has struggled for the past two seasons, finishing third in the AL West in 2017 and fifth in ‘18, and things don’t look like they’ll be getting much better in the near future. With that said, the Rangers have continued to try — an admirable venture in a league where roughly a third of the teams aren’t making an earnest effort to to compete — and they’ve been very active in free agency this offseason. Kelley will be their seventh major-league free-agent addition of the offseason once the deal is complete, following Jesse Chavez, Lance Lynn, Zach McAllister, Shelby Miller, Jeff Mathis, and Asdrubal Cabrera.