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Diamondbacks Reviews #50: Carson Kelly

Injury opened a door for Moreno, and he and the Diamondbacks never looked back.

Kelly, wearing a Detroit Tigers jersey, strikes out swinging David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rating: 2.69
  • 2023 MLB Stats: .206/.278/.287, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 32 Games
  • Date of Birth: 7/14/94 (29 years old)
  • 2023 Salary: $4.28 Million
  • 2024 Status: A Detroit Tiger

On a fateful December day in 2018, the Diamondbacks traded Franchise Cornerstone Paul Goldschmidt for four prospects and a draft pick. One of those prospects was a catcher by the name of Carson Kelly, and at the time, he figured to be the catcher of the future for the Diamondbacks, and I guess technically he was, though not in the optimistic way that phrase typically implies. He spent four and a quarter seasons in Sedona Red, and never really lived up to the trade that brought him to the Valley of the Sun in the first place

This past off season, another fairly significant trade brought another catcher to the valley and it was clear that Kelly’s time with the Diamondbacks was numbered. Despite coming off a season where he hit to the tune of a 75 OPS+, the plan was for him to split time 50/50 with that new catcher, allowing Moreno to develop at a slower pace and limit the wear and tear on both of them in what was supposed to be a developmental year.

Then, in a stroke of bad luck, Carson Kelly was nailed in the forearm by a pitch in the last week of spring training, changing the dynamic of the catching core significantly. Moreno took over the bulk of the games and Jose Herrera became the backup backstop. This worked out extremely well for the Diamondbacks, and arguably Moreno as the primary catcher was a huge part of the Diamondbacks success early on in the season. That lead to a less than stellar welcome from the team when Kelly came back, and Torey Lovullo stated that they would proceed with the original plan of a 50/50 playing time split.

He didn’t do much to change those perceptions when he made his first starts for the Big League team in the middle of June. He had four starts between between June 12th and 17th and went hitless in all four, while only reaching base via walk once in his first game back. He eventually broke through on the 20th with a two hit game, but it didn’t kick start anything. For the month of June, he only recorded six hits in nine starts, and the court of public opinion was turned against him.

July only saw that worsen. He had 15 starts in the month, and he still only recorded six hits. The mood regarding Kelly had reached the point of straight up hostile at that point, as seemingly everyone in the fanbase wanted him gone. Not helping him in the slightest was the fact that the Diamondbacks were in their worst stretch of the season and seemed to be falling out of contention. The fans wanted Gabi Moreno full time, and it was understandable.

It wasn’t the final straw, and he managed to escape through until August, where in limited starts, he actually put together a .467 batting average. It wasn’t enough to undo the damage, however, and on August 15th, Hazen cut his losses and released Kelly, closing the book on the most significant return of the most significant trade in Diamondbacks history.

A week or so later, Kelly was picked up by the Detroit Tigers, where honestly he was even worse than he was for the Diamondbacks, but the Tigers are in a drastically different position than the we are here in the desert, so they tendered him a contract to return for the 2024 season. We at the Snakepit wish him the best, while pondering what could have been.