Chicago Cubs: I’m really good. I’m not going to be really cheap.
Craig Kimbrel is one of the best relievers in the game. He has 333 career saves, strikes out more than 14 batters per nine and is a lock-down ninth-inning arm. Why then, does he not have a job? Why hasn’t anyone offered Kimbrel a contract to his liking and inked him before someone else snatches him up? Three reasons:
Kimbrel is already 30 years old.
He also struggled in the 2018 postseason, despite Boston’s overall success and World Series trophy-hoisting.
Maybe he was tipping pitches, maybe he is getting old or maybe it was just a bump in the road and he will be just fine going forward. However, no one is going to give Kimbrel a six-year deal and no one is going to give him $100 million. His reported demands are just way more than any club is going to give him. Which brings us back to reality – where will he go, how many years will he get, and who is going to pay him?
The Red Sox could bring him back. They could certainly use him, he’s been very good in Boston, and if he is over his pitch-tipping and shakiness of the 2018 playoffs, he would be a great re-up for the club in their efforts to repeat. They also can afford him after coming off a World Series win, and Dave Dombrowski has already said he expects to blow by all three luxury tax thresholds in 2019.
He also could return to the Atlanta Braves, who could definitely use him in their bullpen to join A.J. Minter and Arodys Vizcaino. If his asking price and years come down, however, there could be interest from more teams, including the Philadelphia Phillies, who will find their way into all of these free agent hypotheticals after their “we might be a little stupid with our money” bit earlier in the offseason (Heck, if the asking price plummets, could the Cubs be in on Kimbrel?)
My prediction: he ends up settling with the Red Sox for four years and around $60 million.