Cubs could give Craig Kimbrel a homecoming
Perhaps heading back to where it all started, Atlanta, could energize and enthuse Kimbrel. As things currently stand, the Braves don’t have a true closer. It would likely be one of Luke Jackson, AJ Minter or Will Smith. All of those relievers have excelled in non-closer roles in their careers and it would be an incredibly lethal bullpen if they could add the Craig Kimbrel we saw in Chicago to end 2020 as their closer. Nothing is really stopping this trade from happening other than perhaps maybe the Braves feeling content with their bullpen as is.
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It would likely be appealing to the Cubs to grab a couple of lower tier prospects and the first one that could make sense is first baseman, Bryce Ball. Coming in at number 18 on the Braves top prospect list according to MLB Pipeline, Ball is another high OBP and high-slugging prospect.
Ball is just 22, a lefty, and despite his best trait being his power, has low strikeout rates and can hit for contact as well and has tremendous hand-eye coordination. The problem with Ball is he’s not a great athlete, is probably more of DH as he struggles defensively, and even if he could play first, he’d be blocked by Anthony Rizzo for the foreseeable future.
A good prospect to pair him with in the deal is southpaw Thomas Burrows, who is the 24th-best Braves prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Burrows, who is Alabama’s all-time career saves leader, is 26 and almost major league-ready.
He possesses a good fastball and slider but those are his only two pitches which is a drawback. Burrows two-pitch combo makes him a quality candidate to be a solid bullpen piece in the future, but he’s certainly a risk as he’s always struggled with control. He’d be a strong second prospect in a trade with the Braves.
Despite not being a name that’s being said in the trade market, Craig Kimbrel makes a lot of sense as a trade piece. The Cubs closer seemed to have fixed something at the end of the year and it makes sense to trade him now while he still has some value and they can get his salary off the books.
The organization seem dead set on a reboot and cutting costs, so Kimbrel seems like someone Hoyer will likely try to shop. While he isn’t going to net a top 100 prospect, it’s likely he can still bring back a couple of guys with intriguing upside.