The Washington Nationals found another unusual reason to banish a reliever on Wednesday, a day after trading Brandon Kintzler . Shawn Kelley was designated for assignment after throwing his glove on the mound during Tuesday night's rout against the New York Mets. Kelley apologized after the game, but it didn't seem to matter:
Mike Rizzo on the decision to DFA Shawn Kelley: “You’re either in or you’re in the way. He was in the way.” Called him slamming his glove “disrespect” and “selfish.”— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) August 1, 2018
The Nationals will now have a week to waiver-trade or release Kelley, who has pitched well this season. In 35 games he has a 128 ERA+ and has struck out more than six times as many batters as he's walked. Kelley has had troubles with the long ball, as he's allowed nearly two per nine -- his outburst was spurred by a home run -- but he's certain to draw interest.
Let's take a look at eight potential fits, presented in alphabetical order.
|The theme throughout this is going to be "contenders needing one more arm." The Diamondbacks might have too many relievers following July trades for Matt Andriese, Brad Ziegler and Jake Diekman. Even if Arizona opts to carry eight relievers, they'll need to make room for Andrew Chafin once he returns from paternity leave. That probably means Silvino Bracho heads back to the minors despite a 2.04 ERA and 4.60 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 appearances. The D-Backs just don't seem like a fit for Kelley, not anymore.|
|The Braves also added to their relief corps at the deadline, freeing Jonny Venters and Brad Brach from the American League East. (Darren O'Day was acquired, too, but is expected to miss the rest of the season.) Atlanta could theoretically add Kelley and roll with an eight-man bullpen without having to remove anyone. The Nationals may prefer to ship Kelley outside of the division, however -- especially seeing as how they're well behind the Braves in the standings.|
|Dave Dombrowski landed a second baseman and a starting pitcher at the trade deadline. He didn't land a reliever -- and that's unlikely to change with Kelley. By virtue of having the AL's best record, the Red Sox will have the lowest waiver priority here, complicating a potential deal. Kelley could in theory make it all the way to Boston in the process, but there are enough teams ahead of the Red Sox who could use him that it seems improbable.|
|No team entered July with a more obvious need in the bullpen than Cleveland, who went on to add Brad Hand and Adam Cimber in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Now, Cleveland will have to make a tough decision to clear a forthcoming logjam. Cimber is the only reliever on staff with options remaining, yet Cleveland will need two spots to accommodate the rehabbing Andrew Miller and Ryan Merritt. Perhaps the answer is to expose Merritt to waivers, seeing as how Oliver Perez (really) has proven to be a capable left-handed reliever in addition to Miller and Hand. If it's not, Cleveland will have to banish two of Neil Ramirez, Dan Otero and Zach McAllister. Adding Kelley would necessitate the third member's demise. Cleveland might instead elect to stick with Otero, their own homer-prone righty who has more team control left.|
|For as many resources as the Rockies poured into their bullpen over the winter, it's ridiculous to think they could be in the market for another veteran arm -- especially given they just acquired Seung hwan Oh at the deadline. Still, there's an argument to be made the Rockies should get Kelley and slot him into the spot occupied by either Harrison Musgrave or Yency Almonte. At minimum, the Rockies would block the Los Angeles Dodgers from adding him to their bullpen.|
|Speaking of the Dodgers, their hunt for a reliever netted them John Axford at the deadline. Los Angeles could work Kelley into the fold by optioning J.T. Chargois, but they have a bigger picture to consider. The Dodgers have four pitchers on the disabled list who'll likely figure into their plans if and/or when they return: Ross Stripling, Tony Cingrani, Josh Fields and Yimi Garcia. Injuries happen, particularly to this team, and roster expansion isn't too far off. All the same, the Dodgers might've already maxed out their capacity to add relievers.|
|Much like the Rockies, the A's could add Kelley to help their bullpen and block a competitor from doing the same. In this case, the A's would be playing keep-away from the Seattle Mariners. Kelley would also enable the A's to remove their choice of Ryan Dull and J.B. Wendelken from heir bullpen until rosters expanded.|
|The Mariners added three relievers to their bullpen over the past week: Sam Tuivailala, Adam Warren and Zach Duke. Presuming that Chasen Bradford, the only reliever with options, has pitched well enough to remain in the majors, then the Mariners would be choosing between Kelley and Nick Vincent. (Juan Nicasio was signed to a multi-year deal during the winter and has excellent peripherals, so he's probably not going anywhere.) Given their busy deadline, the Mariners might just prefer to use whatever budget room they have left to add elsewhere instead.|