The Washington Nationals only made one trade before the deadline, but they lost two relievers Tuesday. Hours after Brandon Kintzler was shipped away in a deal, the club designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment after he expressed frustration while pitching in a blowout.
Why did the Nationals designate Shawn Kelley for assignment?
Kelley was tasked with closing out Tuesday’s game. When Kelley entered in the ninth, the Nationals led 25-1. When the game ended, it was 25-4. Kelley gave up three runs during the inning, including two on a home run to Austin Jackson.
While the home run had no impact on the contest, Kelley was not happy about giving it up. He threw his mitt on the ground after the ball left the park, and appeared to glare into the dugout after the play.
Nationals GM Mike Rizzo calls Shawn Kelley “selfish” and disrespectful
The Nationals designated Kelley for assignment early Wednesday. General manager Mike Rizzo did not have kind things to say about the reliever on his way out the door.
Mike Rizzo on the decision to DFA Shawn Kelley: “You’re either in or you’re in the way. He was in the way.” Called him slamming his glove “disrespect” and “selfish.”
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) August 1, 2018
Nationals being called out for decision to get rid of Shawn Kelley
Critics of Rizzo’s decision have pointed out the hypocrisy of getting rid of Kelley while other players do not face the same discipline when they have outbursts on the field. The team has held onto Bryce Harper even though he’s shown emotions and frustration. They didn’t designate Trea Turner for assignment when he failed to run out a bunt attempt.
It would be foolish to part with Harper or Turner over those things, of course. But it does send a message that stars will have more protection than guys deemed expendable. This happens in every sport, and is not exclusive to the Nationals, but it could be another thing that creates unrest in an already shaky clubhouse.
What happens next for Shawn Kelley?
Parting with Kelley probably wasn’t an easy decision. The 34-year-old has a 3.34 ERA with strong peripherals. On the field, he was helping the Nats win games.
Given Rizzo’s comments, it would be tough to see Kelley pitch in the organization again. He’ll likely draw interest once he goes through waivers and the Nationals will work out a deal with another team so he can pitch elsewhere.
What happens next for the Nationals?
You can criticize the Nationals for getting rid of a good player, but this is a team that does not need distractions right now. And the worst part of this for Nationals fans is that Kelley’s outburst came during the team’s best performance of the season. It made it much harder to enjoy that victory.
That’s the way the Nationals have to start playing in order to live up to their lofty preseason expectations. Kelley’s DFA proves they are willing to take extreme steps to make sure things get back on the right track.
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