Kioni Kela, 30, who has 28 career saves in Major League Baseball (MLB), has failed miserably in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).
Japan’s Sankei Sports announced Kela’s free agency on Wednesday (July 13), revealing that he has already returned to the United States. Kela was a key piece of the Yakult Swallows’ rotation last offseason. He was highly touted as a replacement for specialty closer Scott McCaffrey (Arizona Diamondbacks), who has 80 career saves in the NPB since 2019 and 38 saves last year. 안전놀이터추천
His MLB career has been solid. Since making his big league debut in 2015, Kela’s career (seven years) record is 23-13 with 59 holds and 24 saves. In 2018, he recorded 24 saves for the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. At the time of the Yakult signing, Japan’s Sportshochi described Kela as “a weapon with a fastball up to 160 km/h”. The expectations were different. Yakult, who cost the team $1 million ($1.3 billion) per year, never quite lived up to his billing, according to Sankei Sports, who wrote, “He was touted as a possible replacement for McCaffrey, but after posting a 7.71 ERA in 15 games in the Eastern League (second division), he was released from the team without making a first-team appearance. Yakult (32 wins and 45 losses) are fifth in the district, 13 games behind the NPB Central League-leading Hanshin Tigers (45 wins and 32 losses). In desperate need of a rebound, they decided to let Kela go for now.
Yakult is reportedly close to acquiring right-handed pitcher Elvin Rodriguez, currently with the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez is 41-40 with a 3.86 ERA in his eight-year minor league career. He is 3-3 with a 3.40 ERA in Triple-A this season.