UPDATED: Washington Nationals Reportedly in Talks with Reliever Shawn Kelley


Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Winter Meetings are underway, and the Washington Nationals have reportedly signed a right-handed reliever in Shawn Kelley. Is he a good fit for D.C.?

In an effort to construct their new-look bullpen for the 2016 season, the Washington Nationals have signed free agent reliever Shawn Kelley, per reports by MASN Sports. The 31-year old right hander spent last season with the San Diego Padres, going 2-2 with a 2.45 ERA and an 11.0 K/9 over 51.1 innings. Despite having fallen victim to Tommy John surgery twice in his baseball career, Kelley has managed to stay healthy over the past four seasons, pitching in at least 47 games every year since 2012.

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The Louisville native was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 13th round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft out of Austin Peay State University. He made his major league debut with Seattle in 2009, but elbow problems ultimately resulted in a second Tommy John surgery after already undergoing the operation in college. Kelley returned to the field at the end of the 2011 season, finishing the year with ten straight scoreless appearances.

Following a final productive season with Seattle, Kelley spent the next two years in the New York Yankees’ bullpen, recording a modest 4.46 ERA before eventually being traded to the Padres prior to the 2015 season. Over seven-year his career, Kelley has posted a 19-19 record alongside a 3.67 ERA and 10.2 K/9.

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The Nats’ bullpen facelift was kicked off last week with the signing of veteran lefty Oliver Perez to a two-year, $7 million deal. After GM Mike Rizzo and the Nationals organization denied their team option with Casey Janssen, allowed Matt Thornton to sign elsewhere, and non-tendered Craig Stammen, they left room for a creative plan to fill those roles. Drew Storen and Jonathan Papelbon still remain on the team as of now, but their future with the organization may not be very long.

Although top free agent target Darren O’Day will likely be signing with the Orioles any day now, and premiere closer Aroldis Chapman has temporarily taken himself off the trade market after reports of a domestic violence incident surfaced, the Nats will have to think outside the box if they still want to emerge out of this offseason as contenders in the National League.

In signing Kelley, Rizzo and Co. is doing just that. There has not been any indication as to what the roles of these new arms will be alongside Felipe Rivero in the bullpen in 2016, but Kelley will likely fill a middle-innings position to bridge the gap to the 8th and 9th innings.

UPDATED: 2:34 PM ET 12/8/15

According to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News, Kelley and the Nationals have yet to reach an agreement.