Chicago Cubs own a juggernaut bullpen; does it make Craig Kimbrel expendable?
Look, trading Baez, Rizzo or Bryant while the team has a real shot at the postseason is political suicide for Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer. They’re fan favorites, helped bring a World Series to the North Side and, given the Cubs are a big-market team (whether they act like it or not), it would be a move fans would never forget.
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That doesn’t mean Chicago can’t re-tool on the fly while improving for the long-haul. The most obvious way that happens is trading Craig Kimbrel, who very much looks like the potential future Hall of Famer we all thought we were getting two years ago. It might sound ludicrous to trade the anchor at the back end of the bullpen, but the emergence of several relievers could make it at least a little easier to trade the veteran.
On the year, Kimbrel boasts a 0.78 ERA, 15.3 K/9 and 0.783 WHIP across 23 innings of work – elite numbers, to be sure. But, as a whole, the Cubs have guys they could look to use in the ninth inning, even going with a closer-by-committee setup might be an option.
If you don’t trade Kimbrel, you’re all-in. At least to me personally, you can’t hold onto this guy and not buy at the deadline. Keeping him sends a message that you expect to need him come the postseason and you have every intention of making it there. All this to say a trade of Kimbrel isn’t waving the white flag and such a move might be the likeliest when it comes to the team’s pool of free agents-to-be.