Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported that the Rangers and reliever Shawn Kelley were nearing an agreement on a contract. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the deal is worth $2.5 million over one year and includes a club option for a second year. The option is for $2.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.
Kelley, 34, began the 2018 season with the Nationals, but his relationship with the team took a turn for the worst when he threw a tantrum pitching in a mop-up role and allowed a home run to Austin Jackson. The Nationals designated him for assignment and ended up trading him to the Athletics. It came out later that Kelley reportedly almost got into a physical confrontation with GM Mike Rizzo.
Kelley put up a respectable 3.34 ERA in 32 1/3 innings for the Nationals and got even better upon arriving to Oakland. In 16 2/3 innings through the end of the season, he posted a 2.16 ERA. Between both teams, he struck out 50 batters and walked only 11 in 49 innings.
Jose Leclerc handled save situations for the Rangers in the final two months of last season and will likely begin the 2019 season as the closer. Kelley will likely set up for him.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.