The 34-year-old right-hander was pitching to a 3.34 ERA at the time of the incident, after which teammates including Max Scherzer and Ryan Madson confronted him about showing up their manager. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told Kelley he was going to be designated for assignment before he left the park that evening.
The Nationals signed Kelley to a three-year, $15 million dollar deal before the 2016 season and got one year of elite setup performance before injuries derailed him in 2017. Kelley had overcome those struggles to bounce back strong, and he was reestablishing himself as a trustworthy middle relief option for Martinez when he allowed three runs in what had been a 25-1 game against the New York Mets. Rizzo told reporters later that Kelley’s reaction was “selfish” and that he was “in the way” of what the Nationals were trying to accomplish. Kelley told The Washington Post this week that he felt Rizzo characterized him unfairly, and that he has never been a selfish player. In fairness to Kelley, he was always one of the more jovial and accountable members of Washington’s pitching staff.
The Nationals called up right-handed rookie Jimmy Cordero to replace Kelley, but they are also in discussions with veteran free agent Greg Holland, according to people familiar with their plans. In Oakland, Kelley will be reunited with old teammate Blake Treinen, with whom he played for a season and a half before the Nationals traded Treinen in the deal that brought them Madson and Sean Doolittle. Kelley’s final line with the Nationals was a 7-4 record with a 3.87 ERA in 135 appearances. He struck out 137 batters in 116 1/3 innings and walked 27.
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