Drew, who has been out since July 26 with a tear in his abdomen, is now active but isn’t ready to play quite yet. Kelley, who had to depart his Sept. 22 relief appearance with a numb arm, was diagnosed with bone chips in his elbow.
The moves don’t have any real immediate impact but were necessary transactions before the regular season ends. Drew is hoping to make it back from his injury at some point in the postseason, and in order to become eligible he needed to be added back to the 40-man roster. Kelley’s placement on the 60-day DL, a move that could only be made during the regular season, cleared that spot for Drew.
Even if healthy, Drew wouldn’t be a lock to make the 25-man roster for the National League Division Series, with Wilmer Difo having established himself this season as the Nationals’ top backup infielder. But Drew would provide an experienced bat off the bench, and the Nats will consider him for another reserve role if he proves he’s physically ready to play.
Kelley, meanwhile, sees his disappointing season come to a disappointing conclusion. The veteran was supposed to be one of the most trusted members of manager Dusty Baker’s bullpen coming out of spring training, and he briefly was given the closer’s role after Blake Treinen lost it. But Kelley struggled from the outset and never found consistency.
Kelley wound up with a 7.27 ERA in 33 appearances, serving up 12 home runs in only 26 innings. He likely was pitching with the bone chips in his elbow for some time without realizing it. He’ll now likely need surgery to remove them, then will spend the winter rehabbing to make it back in time for spring training.
Kelley, who signed a three-year contract with the Nationals prior to the 2016 season, is due to make $5.5 million next season.