Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel has a chance to rewrite his story
After a disappointing debut campaign with the Cubs, Craig Kimbrel still has a chance to return to form and cement his legacy as an elite closer.
The bullpen was the biggest concern heading into the 2019 Cubs season. After seeing the team make no significant moves to help the bullpen, it seemed like this squad was bound to have bullpen problems.
The first half of the 2019 season was filled with problems, especially in the bullpen. The Cubs were one of the league leaders in blown saves last year. Every Cubs fan also knew that Craig Kimbrel was also still a free agent as the season waned on.
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All we heard during the last offseason was how the Cubs had no money and that’s why they didn’t improve the bullpen during the offseason. The Cubs were also very hesitant to sign Kimbrel before the first-year player draft of 2019 because if they did they would have lost a draft pick, and with how depleted the farm system has been they could not afford to have that happen.
As we all know Ben Zobrist‘s 2019 is something that you don’t see every year. His being placed on the restricted list allowed Chicago to go out and spend money they’d previously allocated. That changed everything for Theo Epstein.
Then on June 5, the news broke that the Cubs and Kimbrel had agreed to terms on a three-year,$45 million deal with an option. Seemingly everyone was in favor of the move because of how badly the club needed a lockdown closer.
Kimbrel struggled in 2019. Now, I get it that he didn’t have a normal Spring Training and he was just kinda tossed into the fire. With pitchers being such creatures of habit I think most people thought the right-hander might take a little bit of an adjusting period.
In 23 games pitched in Kimbrel was 0-4 with a 6.53 ERA and 13 saves. Not what you are looking for out a guy who has a Hall of Fame resume. Kimbrel has two more years on his deal and will make $16 million annually after earning $10 million last season.
With at least two more years of club control, how will Kimbrel’s time on the North Side be remembered? For me, at the time of the move last season, it was the right call. Chicago was in desperate need of a guy in the back end of the bullpen and it’s not too often when a guy with Kimbrel’s resume is still a free agent on the market.
Everyone knew it was a risk signing him in the middle of the season last year and in 2019 that risk did not pay off but was still worth a shot at the time. I think Kimbrel will have a big bounceback season in 2020. He will have something to prove after the disappointing 2019 that he had.
I believe that when it’s all said and done Kimbrel’s time in Chicago will be looked back as something good and not a failed signing.