Texas Rangers Avoid Arbitration with Diekman and Kela

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Jake Diekman (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Jake Diekman (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

The Texas Rangers haven’t had an arbitration hearing since 2000, and it’s going to stay that way for at least one more year. Texas has agreed to deals with relief pitchers Jake Diekman and Keone Kela for the 2018 season.

According to T.R. Sullivan, the Texas Rangers have reached agreements with both Jake Diekman and Keone Kela. Left-handed reliever Jake Diekman has agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.7 million. Kela agreed to a $1.2 million deal for 2018, which is a steal for the Rangers.

Last season, Kela went 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 39 games with two saves. He finished with a 0.91 WHIP, averaged 11.87 strikeouts per nine innings, and opponents hit just .135 off him. There is no doubt that Kela was the Rangers best reliever last season.

The problem is, Kela spends too much time on the disabled list. Kela took two trips to the disabled list last season with a strained right shoulder. He’s fantastic when healthy, but keeping him off the DL has been difficult.

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Lefty Alex Claudio finished the 2017 season as closer, but might not be there in 2018. Kela seems to be the leading candidate for the job, but Diekman and Matt Bush are possibilities as well. Performances in Spring Training will likely decide who begins the season as the closer.

Having Diekman back for a full season is going to be an enormous benefit to the Rangers. Diekman pitched in just 11 games last season, posting a 2.53 ERA and one save, but suffered major control issues.

The 30-year-old Diekman walked 10 batters in 10.2 innings last season. Both Diekman and Kela are key pieces to the Rangers bullpen. Having them healthy and at the top of their game is a must in 2018.