Keone Kela is not on either the Fangraphs or MLB Trade Rumors’ top 50 free agent lists and seems to be flying under the radar because of his injury last year. Kela only got in 2 innings of work in 2020 due to a positive COVID test, and then he experienced 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.
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. He is also just 27 years old and has some history in the Pacific Northwest.
Kela 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, and was then drafted by the Texas Rangers.
Kela has some bad injury history, but if he can be had for a cheap price of around 1 year $2-3 million on a prove-it deal since he still has some years of his prime ahead of him, it’s a no brainer for the Mariners. If or when Kela is healthy, he could be the best pitcher in the Mariners bullpen next year.