Right-handed bullpen arm Keone Kela has hit free agency at the young age of 27. The Mariners need bullpen help, so should the Mariners pursue or pass on Keone Kela?
Keone Kela hits the free-agent market for the first time in his career at the prime age of 27. In his 6 year career with the division rival Texas Rangers and then the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kela has a 3.24 ERA, a 139 ERA+, and a 3.30 FIP.
Kela is a typical relief pitcher, relying on two pitches. His 96 mph 4 seam fastball, and his curveball. In 2019 he had a 2.12 ERA in 29.2 innings pitched and in 2018, a year that he spent in both Texas and Pittsburgh since he was traded to the competing Pirates, he had a 3.29 ERA in 52 innings pitched.
Kela only got in 2 innings of work in 2020 due to a positive COVID test, and then he experiences shoulder inflammation and decided to sit out the rest of the season as he would be a free agent this offseason, and the Pirates were set to finish in last place in the MLB standings.
So, should the Mariners pursue Keone Kela?
Kela was not even featured in the MLB Trade Rumors top 50 free agents, or the Sports Illustrated top 50, and there has not been much news about him in free agency, so he might be flying under the radar. His injury should also not be a concern but could bring down his price tag, as he has a full offseason to recover from the shoulder inflammation that would not have kept him out for the whole season in a regular year or if he were not in a contract year.
Kela also went to high school in Seattle and attended Everett Community College. He spent his childhood all over the west, in California, Hawaii, and Washington. He was actually drafted by the Mariners in the 29th round of the 2011 draft but decided to go to Everett Community College instead.
At the age of 27, with a track record of being a consistently good bullpen arm, he could be looking for, and could be getting, a long-term deal. If I were Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners, I would not exactly be against that as you could get Kela for a low amount per year, keeping him in Seattle for his prime and having him for when the Mariners inevitably start competing.