Chicago Cubs: Advocating for a trade for Craig Kimbrel

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Instead of adding middle-relief help, could the Chicago Cubs go big and trade for San Diego Padres’ closer Craig Kimbrel this offseason?


So, in theory, the Cubs will need help in the sixth and seventh innings next season. Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon seemingly head into the 2016 season with the eighth and ninth-inning jobs locked down – leaving the early innings wide open.

The club has several free agents this winter coming from the ’15 relief corps, including Trevor Cahill and Fernando Rodney, among others. So there will no-doubt be several new faces under Lester Strode’s tutelage down the left-field line at Wrigley Field next spring – but I propose an entirely different solution.

Trade for Craig Kimbrel.

It’s no secret the San Diego Padres’ 2015 experiment of adding star power went awry – horribly awry. The team finished 74-88 – some 18 games back of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers, despite the presence of names such as Wil Myers, James Shields, Justin Upton and Kimbrel on the roster.

With second-year GM A.J. Preller looking to get his franchise back on-track after last year’s massive let-down, unloading some of his top-dollar chips seems to be one of the only cards he has left in his hand.

It’s clear Kimbrel offers a ton of value – especially for a contending club like Chicago. Last season, he had a fairly unimpressive year – at least by his own standards – pitching to a 2.58 ERA, 2.68 FIP and 1.045 WHIP across 59 1/3 innings of work.

While that sounds like it’s still a pretty solid year, take this into account. From 2011 to 2014 with the Atlanta Braves, the flame-throwing right-hander racked up an impressive 185 saves, finishing 234 games in the process.

During that stretch, he averaged nearly 15 punchouts per nine to go along with a 4.74 strikeout-to-walk clip. In each of those seasons, he led the National League in saves, earning All-Star selections annually and finishing in the top 10 in NL Cy Young voting, as well.

So imagine this.

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You deal for Kimbrel, utilizing the depth of the Chicago Cubs’ farm system. This entices San Diego for obvious reasons, allowing them to shed payroll and add young, controllable talent. In return, Chicago gets a lockdown closer, which would actually fix a lot of issues heading into 2016.

If Kimbrel takes over as the Cubs’ closer, this moves Rondon to the eighth and Strop back to the seventh, giving Joe Maddon more stability earlier in the game – which will be key, as we saw how he managed the team’s pitching staff late in the year and during the postseason.

Maddon’s management style would mesh well with a Kansas City-style bullpen. Can you imagine Joe with something like what Ned Yost has with the Royals? His short-leash mentality would run rampant and the late-inning roller coasters Cubs fans grew accustomed to in recent years would cease to exist.

Ah, if only.

The Chicago Cubs are known to be in the market for arms this winter – and Jed Hoyer already said that trades cannot be ruled out. Is Kimbrel in the mix for the North Siders? Only time will tell.