Pittsburgh Pirates Have Interest In Keone Kela

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Pirates hot start to July could make them look to add to the current group. The biggest area where the team could add would the bullpen.

The Pirates bullpen entered Tuesday ranking 19th in ERA (4.22), though their 3.59 FIP ranks seventh. Michael Feliz, who was acquired this offseason, and Steven Brault have been the biggest weaknesses in the bullpen thus far, posting 5.35 and 4.35 ERA’s respectively.

The good news is, with their recent stretch, the Pirates could look to add to this group. Evan Grant of the Dallas News reports the Pirates have interest in the Texas Rangers closer Keone Kela. Grant writes,

"“The Pirates, who entered Tuesday with a 10-game winning streak that has put them on the edge of the NL playoff race, have emerged as a club with legitimate interest in Rangers’ closer Keone Kela, according to three major league sources.”"

Kela this year has posted a 3.18 ERA, 2.57 FIP, and is striking out 29.5 percent of batters while walking only 8.6 percent. This is coming off the heels of a 2017 season of a 2.79 ERA, 3.26 FIP, 33.8 percent strikeout rate, and a 11.3 percent walk rate.

The 25-year-old Kela is owed $400,000 for the rest of this season. He is still under club control for the next three seasons in which he is arbitration eligible.

Kela would represent an upgrade to the Pirates bullpen and would solidify the backend. Felipe Vazquez is a proven closer, and Kela would ultimately slide into the eighth with Kyle Crick and Edgar Santana in the seventh and sixth innings. Or perhaps the club could play the matchups with Vazquez and Kela in the eighth and ninth.

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The Pirates should be looking to either add marginal upgrades to this year or adding players who are under contract over the next future years. Kela represents the latter, and he would allow the Pirates to lengthen the bullpen and shorten the innings needed to be covered by the starter