Former Padres Reliever Shawn Kelley to Nationals

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Former San Diego Padres reliever Shawn Kelley has finalized a three year deal with the Washington Nationals for $15M, along with left handed reliever Oliver Perez.

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Though he battled some injuries with the Padres, Kelley was one of the Padres most reliable arms out of the bullpen in 2015. He finished the year with a 2.45 ERA in 53 appearances for the club. Unfortunately, the Padres had rare stretches where both him and Brandon Maurer were healthy at the same time. Last year he made just under $3M with the Padres, so the raise is quite welcome.

Under his new deal, he will make $4M in 2016 and $5.5M each of the following two seasons after that. He is just 31 years old, so health is on his side at least for this contract.

Kelley was acquired from the Yankees before least season after two seasons in pinstripes. He was drafted and debuted with Seattle after being a 15th round selection in the 2007 draft.

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The Padres meanwhile still have bullpen spots to fill. Whether they fill them with youth from the minor leagues or a few free agency acquisitions remains to be seen. Given that they traded away Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit to help save some salary, it was unlikely they were going to ante up for a contract of Kelley’s size for a 7th/8th inning man.

The Nationals bullpen struggled last season and was a big part of why they didn’t make the playoffs. As the Royals and Giants have demonstrated, bullpens are just about the most important aspect of a team that is intent on making it long into the post-season tournament. The Padres starting pitching struggled to go deep into games last season and the team struggled to bridge the gap between the starting pitching and the end of game gauntlet of Benoit to Kimbrel.

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