Even though the Minnesota Twins may not be “buyers”, would a trade for Texas Rangers reliever Keone Kela be a wise move?
This trade season, the Minnesota Twins have already made a splash for one need area, getting a reliable starter in Jaime Garcia that should allow the team to get good innings out of 3-4 of their rotation spots every turn through, which is something they’ve only been able to count on out of 2 spots each turn. They still have needs in the bullpen for sure, and that could be a target on the market.
We at Puckett’s Pond will be looking at a number of the trade candidates that the Minnesota Twins may be pursuing over the next few days ahead of the July 31st trade deadline. Today’s highlight will feature a guy that has been a definite strikeout artist if not consistent in his performance.
Keone Kela, RHP, Texas Rangers
Keone was drafted in the 29th round in the 2011 draft out of high school in Seattle area by the Seattle Mariners, but he chose instead to attend Everett Community College, where he was selected in the 12th round in 2012 by the Rangers.
Kela was immediately made a reliever, and he’s never started a game in his entire professional career. He worked his way up the Rangers system fairly quick, making it to the major leagues in 2015 as a 22 year old and really showing well with the Rangers.
While Kela has seen three very different results in ERA, posting a 2.39 ERA in 68 games in 2015, then a 6.09 ERA in 35 games in 2016, and a 2.51 ERA in 32 games this season, his FIP and SIERA have been nearly identical across the three seasons, showing he’s really been the same pitcher, but he got unlucky in the runners that scored in 2016.
Why the Twins would be interested
Kela would bring a power arm to the bullpen with a fastball that AVERAGES 96.5 MPH this season and has consistently sat 95-96 in his career for an average, touching 99 at the very top end in velocity. His second pitch is a hard curve that comes in around 83 MPH and has sharp break, both generating weak contact and swing and miss.
Kela is not a ground ball pitcher, but he is a guy who gets medium or soft contact on over 3/4 of his contact allowed, so the fly balls he allows are often quite playable, and with the Twins excellent outfield defense, he should fit very well.
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Kela is going to be eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, so he’ll get his first “real” pay day, but likely he’ll be seeing a salary around $1-2M. He won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.
One thing to consider would come from this spring. Kela was surprisingly demoted just ahead of opening day this season, and it came out later that it was due to a lack of effort and energy in the clubhouse and a perceived edge on the mound that was rubbing opponents wrong. He has come up since and performed well, and all word is that he has reconciled with his teammates.
The wager for the cost on Kela is tough due to the off-field stuff and how that will play into the price that the Rangers are going to expect for Kela. While not one of the top 5ish prospects, I could see a package of prospects that was fairly expensive being the cost to acquire Kela in the market for relief pitching. A deal like Felix Jorge/Kohl Stewart, Jaylin Davis/Jermaine Palacios, and an upside player from the lower levels would probably at least be competitive.
What do you think about this type of deal? Would you want to bring in Kela to be a power righty in the bullpen? Would you prefer to trade a different package of players to make it happen if so? Comment below!!