USA Today Sports

Red Sox' competition for Joe Kelly coming into focus

Rob Bradford
December 10, 2018 - 11:36 am

LAS VEGAS -- Joe Kelly is happy with the communication he has had throughout the offseason with the Red Sox. But in the next breath, the reliever explained to WEEI.com how enjoyable it has been to meet with and listen to other suitors.

Now we have an idea some of those teams who have some interest in the free agent.

According to multiple major league sources, the Dodgers, Mets and White Sox have joined the Red Sox in becoming the most aggressive when it comes to pursuing the services of Kelly. Of all the teams Los Angeles may be putting the biggest push on garnering the services of the 30-year-old.

It's interesting to note that with the exception of the White Sox the teams who are being classified as the potential frontrunners for Kelly line up with the same clubs who are prioritizing free agent reliever David Robertson, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

While Kelly wouldn't confirm the teams' interest to WEEI.com, he did explain how intriguing it was to hear some of the ways other clubs viewed his role. (To read all of Kelly's comments, click here.)

"It’s a win-win for me right now just from what I’ve seen and heard. It’s great," Kelly said. "It’s cool to see different views and different thought processes. Different ways of doing things analytically. Different ways to increase or decrease usage.

"I’m one of those guys, and I proved it in the World Series, I pitched in different innings every single game and had the same success. I’m not saying other guys can’t do it. But I don’t need that dedicated routine where I have to stretch in the sixth, drink my coffee in the seventh and mentally prepare. It’s one of those things where they can say, ‘Hey, Joe you’re in the next batter.’ And I can go in and dominate because mentally I don’t need the same routine. Honestly, the less time the better for me. That’s what I realized as a starter because I had so much time. Doing scouting reports. Having anxiety leading up. Looking at the lineup. It’s one of those things where I think it fits best and it showed throughout the World Series. Any given role, when I’m right, challenging hitters, I don’t need to a routine. I’m not one of those guys who can’t have change to be successful. Just give me the ball when the big outs are needed. Once they call my name I’ll get checked in rather than going through a whole process. That’s never been my MO and I realized that as I became an older player in the league. The less thinking the better. I told them I just want the big outs.

"Ninety-five percent of players need to feel comfortable in their routine. That’s one of those things I could pretty much could care less about. As long as my body is loose, I’m ready to go."

One major league source familiar with the Red Sox' way of thinking said if somehow Craig Kimbrel did land back with the team there wouldn't be a strong likelihood that the Sox would invest in another late-inning reliever such as Kelly. But if Kimbrel didn't re-sign the thought is Boston might commit to multiple free agent relievers.

Related: Bradford: Why Joe Kelly feels pretty good about his situation right now