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Multiple teams willing to give Joe Kelly a look at closer

Rob Bradford
November 28, 2018 - 2:47 pm

When it comes to Joe Kelly signing as a closer there have been no guarantees, but some legitimate opportunities.

According to multiple sources, Kelly continues to draw interest from a significant number of major league clubs with multiple teams expressing that the righty would have an opportunity to compete for the role of closer. No deal, however, appears imminent.

While the 30-year-old doesn't have the closing experience of other free agents -- such as Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, Kelvin Herrera and, of course, Craig Kimbrel -- he does represent a potentially cheaper option with similar upside as many of the aforementioned candidates.

"Would I want to close? Yeah, that would be the ultimate goal for a guy in the bullpen," Kelly told WEEI.com just prior to the Red Sox' championship parade. "I wouldn’t say I need to close. That would probably limit my number of options. Some teams might want me to start. You never know. I’m open to anything."

There haven't been any clubs who have shown an interest in signing Kelly as a potential starter.

Kelly is hitting the open market on a high note, having dominated throughout the Red Sox' postseason run, punctuating his playoffs by striking out the side in the eighth inning of the World Series-clinching Game 5. In nine appearances he allowed just one earned run, striking out 13 and not walking a single batter.

In an interview back in May Kelly explained why closing might be a good fit for his mentality and skill-set.

"I wouldn’t say I have a super addictive personality, but it’s a thrill. I like that feeling," he told WEEI.com. "I like that euphoric feeling I get when the pressure is big. I’m not saying I can’t pitch with an eight-run lead or when we’re eight runs down, but I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not the same. When I’m warming up I want to feel a little bit of a rush. I don’t know if it’s my personality or the way I tick or whatever works in my brain that makes it that way, but I like knowing it’s going to be a battle.

"I just now have been able to get these situations consistently. I’ve pitched in the playoffs in big situations. I’ve pitched at end of the game sometimes. Now it’s just putting them all together, not just sporadically."

The Red Sox could ultimately be one of the teams who might give Kelly an opportunity to compete with the likes of Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes, but they also are seemingly casting a wide net in their search for a game-ender. The New York Post, for instance, reported Wednesday that the Sox have shown interest in acquiring star closer Edwin Diaz from the Mariners.

Related: Tomase: Edwin Diaz move would be pure Dave Dombrowski

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