Ken Giles could be one guy who breathes life into the Cubs bullpen in 2021.
It has been a rough two seasons for Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel. The 32-year-old right-hander yielded nine earned runs (5.28 ERA) while recording two saves in 18 appearances last year, but admittedly finished the year on a high note.
Plenty of fans are wondering how long the team will continue to put their faith in Kimbrel given his inconsistencies. Before his arrival, Chicago had been holding off on spending money for bullpen depth. Multiple leads were blown, resulting in fans crying for the front office to make a move. The team made that move and it just didn’t work out the way we’d all hoped for.
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Looking to shore up the back end of the bullpen, the North Siders have recently been tied to someone they could’ve drafted back in 2009. Over 10 years ago, Chicago drafted Colin Kaepernick with the 1,310th pick. Another right-handed reliever, Ken Giles, went 1,328th out of high school but opted to attend college.
Several years later, the Phillies picked him in the seventh round. He would later be part of the Houston Astros 2017 World Series team. We won’t talk about them beating on trash cans to get the upper-hand on the competition. They’ve already endured that bit enough.
Giles, now 30, is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The former Toronto Blue Jay sustained several arm injuries during the shortened campaign which led to the surgery. Prior to 2020, Giles had avoided arbitration with Toronto by agreeing to a one-year, $9.6 million deal.
One year prior, Giles entered his first full year with the Blue Jays following a trade from the Astros. He turned in one of his best campaigns as a reliever that season. In 53 games, Giles converted 23 of 24 save opportunities, posting an 83:17 K/BB ratio, 1.00 WHIP and 1.87 ERA in the process.
Similar to Kimbrel, 2020 wasn’t very kind to Giles. In fact, it was more of a trainwreck as he managed to only make four appearances throughout the shortened season. A career-worst 9.82 ERA would be his final mark after only 3 2/3 innings of work.
Given the fact that he will not be able to pitch in 2021, Giles and his camp could give teams a massive discount compared to the $9.6 million deal he had with Toronto. If the price is right, Jed Hoyer should definitely check in with his representatives with an eye on 2022 and beyond.
The right-hander has been an outstanding relief pitcher when healthy and could be what the team needs to compete in 2022, especially if the Cubs move on from Kimbrel after this season as is widely expected. This organization has rolled the dice on pitchers recovering from Tommy John, so it wouldn’t be anything new.
Giles is a potentially high-risk signing that could surely turn into a much sweeter reward in return if it all pans out.