Boston Red Sox

Oct 31, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly speaks before the World Series victory parade at Fenway Park. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

Oct 31, 2018; Boston, MA: Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly speaks before the World Series victory parade at Fenway Park. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Joe Kelly is going to get his share of lucrative free-agent offers in the coming weeks. But the Red Sox reliever said in a new interview that he hopes to stay in Boston for as long as he’s pitching.

Kelly told Jim Rome on Monday that he’s going to explore free agency like any player would, but he still feels like a true Red Sox player and doesn’t want that to change.

“I don’t even feel like a free agent, because I still feel like I’m a part of the Boston Red Sox,” said Kelly. “I still feel like that’s where I’m going to be the rest of my career. … Deep down inside I still feel like I’m on the Red Sox, even though technically I’m not. It’s going to be fun to see what teams are interested in me. Hopefully I can be a Red Sox, though, for the rest of my career.”

Kelly had an up-and-down 2018 season for the Red Sox, but finished it off with a massive up. He had a 4.39 ERA in the regular season, but absolutely dominated in the postseason with just one earned run allowed in 11.1 innings. He hit a crescendo in the World Series, delivering an MVP-caliber performance with six shutout innings and 10 strikeouts.

He certainly had a memorable-enough season (which also included that brawl with the Yankees) that he’ll always be revered in Boston, even if he ends up in another uniform.

It’s likely that Kelly fields some long-term offers to close as a free agent. But it sure sounds like he may be willing to take a smaller deal from the Red Sox in order to stay in Boston for the foreseeable future.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.