Padres still aren’t done, sign former Pirates reliever Keone Kela
By Jake Misener
Every now and then, it’s nice to feel like you know what’s up. That’s how I felt this morning when I woke up and saw the San Diego Padres had inked Keone Kela to a deal.
Why? Because almost a month ago, I penned a piece singling out Kela as an ideal buy-low depth piece for the Padres. He’s fallen out of favor in certain crowds and, based on all the information I had, seemed like a perfect extra topping on San Diego’s offseason sundae.
More from Friars on Base
- Padres fighting with hated rival to sign quality veteran relief pitcher
- Jurickson Profar free agency update likely rules out Padres reunion
- Fernando Tatis Jr. may not take to outfield move after Xander Bogaerts addition
- Padres News: Fernando Tatis Jr. trade rumors, Seth Lugo chase, Manny Machado
- Padres barely missed out on high-end veteran starting pitcher
I believe so strongly in the Padres’ clubhouse that Kela’s past of butting heads with teammates and members of other organizations didn’t stop me for a second when looking at what he could add to this bullpen.
"… Kela brings tremendous upside when healthy. In his injury-impacted career, he has struck out over 30 percent of the hitters he’s faced and consistently runs his fastball up into the mid-to-high 90s. A power arm ready to take the ball from this team’s star-studded rotation could take the Padres up yet another notch."
Of course, over the weekend, San Diego brought him former All-Star closer Mark Melancon, who will add experience to this ever-growing collection of bullpen arms. He profiles as a groundball-inducing soft-tosser, while Kela can ramp up the velocity and overpower hitters at will.
Padres have enviable mix of arms with Keone Kela in tow
At this point, there are probably a half-dozen guys in that pen who could conceivably close out games this season. Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
Last year’s shortened 2020 season was essentially a lost cause for Kela, who tested positive for COVID-19 and battled forearm tightness. But it wasn’t that long ago the right-hander was one of the up-and-coming late-inning relievers in the game.
From 2017 to 2019, Kela made 125 appearances and worked to a 2.84 ERA, 3.20 FIP, 1.014 WHIP and 11.2 K/9 across 120 1/3 innings of work. He’s showcased a tremendous ability to run his fastball by opposing hitters and miss bats – and if he can do that with the Padres this season, you can bet he’ll get some primetime innings out of the bullpen.