Washington Nationals considered favorites for Shawn Kelley


3:30 PM CST: Update: The Nationals are still working on a deal with Kelley, and are considered favorites. The Diamondbacks and Mariners are both in on the righty as well.

4:05 AM CST: The Washington Nationals have struck a deal with reliever Shawn Kelley, according to Jack Curry of YES Network. The terms of the deal are not yet known.

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Kelley marks the second addition to the Nats’ bullpen this week, as Washington also signed lefty Oliver Perez to a two-year deal. The Nationals are attempting to completely rebuild their bullpen this winter, as they’ve lost Casey Janssen, Doug Fister, Matt Thornton, Craig Stammen, and potentially Drew Storen and/or Jonathan Papelbon from last year’s group.

Kelley had a career year with the Padres in 2015, posting a 2.45 ERA in 53 appearances (51.1 innings). The 31-year-old posted an outstanding 11.0 K/9 rate, marking the third consecutive season he’s struck out at least 11 batters per nine frames.

The Austin Peay State product, who played his college ball just down the road from the Winter Meetings, returns back to the East Coast after a one-year stint with the Padres. Kelley spent 2013 and 2014 with the Yankees, recording a collective 4.46 ERA across 116 appearances. FIP, however, suggested he was significantly better than that number implies.

Kelley will pair with Perez to add a veteran presence to a bullpen that currently stands to feature young arms Felipe River, Blake Treinen, Rafael Martin and Matt Grace. The Nationals will likely continue to add to their bullpen, perhaps going after Mark Melancon, Andrew Miller, or another closer, but Kelley currently stands to be the closer if Papelbon and Storen depart and no other moves are made.

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The Nationals do figure to make some more moves this week, however, as they’re shopping Storen and could also end up trading shortstop Yunel Escobar. The team will also be on the hunt for bullpen help and a center fielder, and is reportedly in the mix to sign Ben Zobrist.