Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel makes sense as a trade candidate

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /
2 of 5
Chicago Cubs / Craig Kimbrel
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Cubs could be hard-pressed to unload Craig Kimbrel and his contract

The Cubs are seemingly more than ready to trade key members of their roster in the name of rebooting and keeping profits down as they’ve already demonstrated with Yu Darvish. With this in mind, it makes sense that they listening on Bryant, Contreras, and even Kyle Hendricks. But one name that fits the bill for a trade, perhaps more so than the other names, is Kimbrel, who has received very little attention in the trade circuit.

The veteran closer has gotten very little, if any, attention in the rumor mill, but he fits the profile of a player the Cubs should be trying to get rid of. Kimbrel is projected to make $16,000,000 this year, likely far more than the Cubs would be willing to pay the inconsistent righty, even with the Ricketts reportedly increasing the baseball operations budget. Kimbrel’s time with the Cubs has been a bumpy ride, to say the least, evidenced by a 6.00 ERA over 41 games with just 15 saves, an extreme HR/9 of 2.8, and an BB/9 of 6.0. He did have a great SO/9 of 14.5, however.

All of this eventually led to Kimbrel losing his closing job to Jeremy Jeffress, and all of this would make it seem as though the Chicago closer would be untradeable. However, after being demoted from the closer’s role, he seemed to find what made him such a dominant closer in years past. In September 2020, Kimbrel made his last eight appearances of the year before one scoreless postseason outing.

His September was pure dominance as he pitched 7 1/3 innings, gave up just three hits, did not allow a home run, didn’t hit any batters and allowed batters to have just a .250 OPS against him. Most impressively, Kimbrel didn’t issue a single free pass the entire month, a monumental feat for him all things considered.

This was certainly a welcome development for the Chicago Cubs as Kimbrel recouped some of his trade value and flashed that he still has closer stuff. But if Jed Hoyer does decide to trade Kimbrel, what teams could make sense?