Chicago Cubs: Kimbrel’s late-season bounceback could be huge
Reliever Craig Kimbrel did not live anywhere near up to his potential with the Chicago Cubs in 2020. The 32-year-old reliever signed a three-year, $43 million deal back in 2019 – and earning $16 million in both 2020 and 2021.
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Additionally, he would have to appear in 55 games and stay healthy next year to see a guaranteed 2022 option and if this option does not become a reality there is a $1 million buyout to relieve the team of Kimbrel sooner. The question left to answer is, is Kimbrel worth that much of the payroll? That is up for debate.
Chicago brought the seven-time All-Star to the North Side halfway through the 2019 season in an effort to bolster the bullpen but that has not gone as planned. Throughout his career with the Cubs, Kimbrel has made a total of 41 appearances and owns a 6.00 ERA and 1.528 WHIP. Those numbers are not ideal, and the only way he could have trade value is if teams hone in on his most recent appearances.
While Kimbrel struggled in the beginning of 2020, he had a stellar end to the season. Across his final 14 appearances, the right-hander posted a 1.42 ERA and fixed his mechanics so he was able to strike out more batters. If Theo Epstein and the front office decide to keep core players, Kimbrel will probably stay. However, if a rebuild begins this offseason, the closer could easily be one of the first players to go. At the end of the day, a contending team could use a big arm like Kimbrel in the bullpen, but the his contract is a weight for the team right now.
Yes, this offseason remains a mystery. But with financials looking bleaker by the day, unloading Bryant and Kimbrel’s contracts would be a big step toward righting the ship for Tom Ricketts and the Cubs organization.