Merrill KellyDiamondbacks agree to two-year extension
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., April 1 — Merrill Kelly will be a Diamondback until at least 2024.
Just days after extending their top position player, Ketel Marte, the Arizona Diamondbacks extended one of their most successful starting pitchers in years. Kelly received a two-year extension for 2023 and 2024, with a team option for 2025. According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Kelly will receive $8 million in 2023 and 2024, and the option year is $7 million with a $1 million buyout. With his $1 million signing bonus, the total value is $18 million in guaranteed salary.
The Diamondbacks have extended the contract of right-hander Merrill Kelly for two years. He will be paid $8 million in 2023 and 2024. There is a $7 million team option for 2025 with a $1 million buyout. The deal includes a $1 million signing bonus. Total guarantee: $18 million.
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) April 1, 2022
Reactions to the Merrill Kelly extension
Scottsdale native Merrill Kelly smiled as he said he was “extremely happy, obviously, to be home”. He and his wife having had daughter Hadley, their first child, in February, it’s a relief not to have to move to another city. “I know my wife is probably even happier than me right now, because she doesn’t have to worry about moving (Hadley) and finding a place to live. But yeah, it’s been a trip. And I’m glad it ended up where we are right now.
Director Torey Lovullo said, “Fantastic news for this organization. (Merrill is) someone who has definitely proven himself over the past few years. He really deserves the opportunity to stay for a few more years…. Anytime you can solidify inside a clubhouse like he does, it’s a really, really good feeling.
General manager Mike Hazen said, “Merrill has probably been our most consistent starter over the last few years. Lots of credit (goes) to the scouts who recommended signing him a few years ago. It has been everything we hoped for, and we hope that will continue in the future.
What Merrill Kelly brings to the Diamondbacks
Of all the Diamondbacks’ starting pitchers from 2019 to present, Merrill Kelly has the most innings – 372 2/3. He has the most decisions of any Diamondback, 50. That’s nearly twice as many as the next players on the roster, Luke Weaver and the late Alex Young (26). His 23 wins over that span are 10 more than runner-up Robbie Ray, who left at the 2020 deadline. His ERA is third-lowest among starters at 4.27, which translates to an ERA less than 97 (the lower the better; 100 is the league average).
He also brings a positive presence to the clubhouse. “The stability he offers, the pitch mix, his ability to attack different types of hitters – he showed that consistently. It feels like he got better as he went along. He keeps himself in great shape. (Merrill is) a leader for example in the clubhouse, “said Hazen. Lovullo added, “There’s just a certain confidence in him, a little swag that walks around, knowing that “He came out the other side. (He) paid his dues and learned from some of the mistakes that were made.
“(Merrill) continues to grow and learn day by day, and I think everyone appreciates the work ethic. Everyone appreciates the effort all five days and the four days in between. And he always has been a great teammate. I only know him as someone who will come out of the box to speak and teach. One thing that I have definitely learned about Merrill and appreciated from day one is his ability to say what he think. He does it well, (taking) the old mindset that you can say whatever you want as long as you say it the right way. Because of that, he and I had a relationship that develops and we dive deep in. I’m sure he does the same with a lot of his teammates.
Of all the foreign league players scouted by Hazen or someone working for him, few have developed as well as Merrill Kelly. “He’s definitely up there,” Hazen said, “in terms of someone making that transition from when he left the United States to when he came back. (He had) clearly put in a lot of time and of work to perfect his craft, and we have been the beneficiaries.
Besides his time with the Tampa Bay Rays and his four years in Korea, Merrill Kelly has spent his entire baseball career in Arizona – Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale, Yavapai College in Prescott, Arizona State University in Tempe, and now the Diamondbacks . He wanted to stay home, so when the overtime worked, he couldn’t have been happier.
Kelly will likely be the second starter in the rotation. If his March 23 performance against the San Francisco Giants (three innings, nine-for-nine, eight strikeouts) is any indication, Diamondback fans are in for a treat in 2022.
And after Friday’s news, they will enjoy it for another two or three years.
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Merrill Kelly, Ketel Marte, Torey Lovullo, Luke Weaver, Alex Young, Robbie Ray