5 biggest questions facing the Chicago Cubs in 2021

(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Craig Kimbrel / Cubs
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Cubs: Can Craig Kimbrel turn the page on two rough seasons in Chicago?

Craig Kimbrel was supposed to be part of the solution. Instead, he’s been arguably the biggest problem in the Cubs’ bullpen since signing with the team halfway through the 2019 campaign.

Despite finishing the 2020 season on a high note, the veteran right-hander has been a total disaster on the North Side. He’s struggled to locate his curveball, saw his once-overpowering fastball lose critical velocity and opposing offenses made him pay the price.

Entering the last year in his initial three-year, $45 million contract, Kimbrel has been roughed up early this spring, as well. He’s made just two appearances, but allowed five runs on five hits. Opponents are hitting .556 against him and his 22.50 ERA isn’t exactly a confidence boost.

Like Bryant, right now Kimbrel has very little trade value. Given his age and recent struggles, he’s actually got less value than Bryant, who is still just 29 and is a former NL MVP. His $16 million salary makes him someone Hoyer would undoubtedly like to shed at the trade deadline, but unless Kimbrel gets back on track and shows he can still close out games consistently, he’ll likely finish the year in Chicago.