Reds rumors: Cincinnati Reds showing interest in Shawn Kelley

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 03: Shawn Kelley #31 of the Oakland Athletics throws a pitch against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning in the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium on October 03, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 03: Shawn Kelley #31 of the Oakland Athletics throws a pitch against the New York Yankees during the fifth inning in the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium on October 03, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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With most of the recent Reds rumors surrounding the pending acquisition of Sonny Gray, the Cincinnati Reds interest in Shawn Kelley went a bit unnoticed.

Most of the Reds rumors over the weekend dealt with the potential acquisition of New York Yankees starting pitcher Sonny Gray. While those talks are still ongoing, another rumor involving the Cincinnati Reds surfaced. Apparently the Reds are interested in relief pitcher Shawn Kelley.

According to Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports, the Cincinnati Reds are one of about 10 teams that have shown interest in Kelley. With Adam Ottavino signing with the Yankees last week, Kelley may be the best relief pitcher remaining on the market aside from Craig Kimbrel.

In 35 appearances with the Washington Nationals last season, Kelley had an ERA of 3.34 in 32.1 innings pitched. His ERA+ was 128 and his WHIP was 0.959. Kelley was unceremoniously designated for assignment by the Nats following a 25-4 blowout loss to the Mets in which Kelley slammed his glove onto the mound following a home run.

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Kelley landed on his feet, however, and latched on with the Oakland Athletics where he posted a 2.16 ERA through 16.2 innings over 19 appearances. His ERA+ in those 19 games was 196 and his WHIP was 0.780. Kelley was an important figure in the A’s bullpen down the stretch and helped the team reach the postseason.

Obviously, Kelley has his flaws, as his ground ball rate last season was an unappealing 30.2%. The MLB average is 44% and it’s even more important to keep the ball on the ground in the hitter-friendly ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River known as Great American.

Kelley is no spring chicken, as he will turn 35-years old in late April. However, David Hernandez and Jared Hughes will both turn 34 this coming year and are coming off very productive seasons for the Reds coming out of the bullpen. If Kelley, a Louisville-native, were to sign with Cincinnati, he could add another stalwart arm to the back end of the Reds bullpen.

Heyman’s report suggests the Cincinnati Reds are not alone in their pursuit of Kelley, in fact, he claims that Cincy is one of 10 teams interested in the veteran right-hander. If the Reds were able to land Kelley, it would add another layer to the already stacked Cincinnati bullpen.

The Cincinnati Reds have Hernandez, Hughes, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Wandy Peralta, and Raisel Iglesias already set in the bullpen for next season. In addition, Sal Romano, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Lucas Sims, and others will be battling it out for a possible spot in the starting rotation. Those pitchers who don’t make the cut as starters could find their way into the pen.

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The Reds rumors have been numerous this offseason, but they all contain the same overriding theme…pitching, pitching, pitching. The Reds front office are obviously acutely aware of their shortcomings and are kicking the tires on any possible upgrade to the starting rotation and the bullpen.