The Chicago Cubs’ bullpen is in desperate need of Craig Kimbrel

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

If the Chicago Cubs truly have serious aspirations of winning the National League Central and winning a World Series, they need to get their bullpen right. An easy way to do that, pick up the phone and call Craig Kimbrel.

If this weekend didn’t make it clear, the Chicago Cubs bullpen needs a lot of help. It needs someone you can trust to provide stability at the back-end of the bullpen. It requires a pitcher that can come in and shut the door while imposing fear into other teams. Plain and simple, the Cubs bullpen needs Craig Kimbrel.

During his nine-year career, Kimbrel has been the most elite closer in baseball. He’s been so lights out that he has recorded 333 saves and only given up 285 hits. I mean that’s crazy, he’s the only closer in the history of baseball to have more saves than hits allowed. That has to be one of my favorite stats of all-time.

All-in-all, he’s been a seven-time All-Star, he’s led the league in saves on four separate occasions, and most recently he won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox last season. He holds a career ERA of just 1.91 and has only surrendered a total of 122 runs. On top of that, Kimbrel holds a lifetime 4.23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s struck out a total of 868 batters and walked just 205. I said it earlier, and I’ll repeat it, the guy is lights out.

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Based on those numbers and the career he’s had, of course, Kimbrel is asking for the world in regards to his next contract. However, due to his asking price, no teams have budged and he is still sitting at home as a free agent. I think the longer he sits around, the more likely it is that his asking price will start to drop or maybe he’d be more open to a short-term deal, which could potentially open the door for the Cubs.

Due to his contract demands, I initially was not on board with the Cubs throwing a ton of money at him, but I’ve certainly changed my mind. If they could get him to sign a short-term deal for a year or two at a reasonable price, that’s a no-brainer move for the Cubs.

Chicago Cubs: Kimbrel would transform the Cubs bullpen

Although we’re only three games into the season, the Cubs bullpen has struggled to say the least. In 11 and 2/3 innings so far the bullpen has lost two games and allowed a 10.03 ERA. They’ve given up a total of 13 runs on four home runs to go along with eight walks.

The addition of Kimbrel would go a long way towards fixing that. I’m not saying that he would be pitching in all of these big spots but having him would extend the Cubs bullpen significantly. By having him for the ninth inning, that allows Pedro Strop to return to the set-up role and pitch in the eighth and possibly seventh innings. When Brandon Morrow returns from his injury, he also would be able to return to a set-up role where he was dominant during his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers. A back-end of the bullpen featuring Kimbrel, Morrow and Strop would be one of the best in the National League.

From there everyone else can fill in and then you don’t have to rely on Carl Edwards in high-leverage situations. You can use Brandon Kintzler and Steve Cishek in the sixth and seventh inning without having to worry about who you’re going to use later. You can save Mike Montgomery and Randy Rosario for lefty-lefty match-ups. An addition of Kimbrel makes everyone else’s role in the bullpen much more defined and Joe Maddon’s job much more straightforward.

While signing Kimbrel would clearly make the Cubs and their bullpen better it could also keep their division rival in check. Much like the Cubs, the Milwaukee Brewers have been linked to signing Kimbrel due to their recent bullpen issues. Last week it was announced that Corey Knebel would be out for the season with Tommy John surgery. That adds even more incentive for the Brewers to go out and sign Kimbrel.

After winning the division and reaching the NLCS last year, the Brewers believe their window to compete for a World Series is now. Adding Kimbrel to an already loaded bullpen of Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress would be a move to potentially put them over the top.

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Ultimately, Kimbrel is the guy that could take the Cubs bullpen to the next level. Signing Kimbrel is the move the Cubs need to make, and it would be similar to acquiring Aroldis Chapman in 2016 that shows everyone the Cubs are serious World Series contenders.