The Chicago Cubs entered June exceeding all expectations we had for this team. The offense is clicking and the bullpen is firing on all cylinders. Entering Monday, the bullpen ranked second in all of baseball with a 2.68 ERA and the offense is seventh over the past month batting .250.
The trend is becoming more and more likely for this team to buy at the deadline and they may not have a choice. However, they could take more of a Rays approach and do a combination of buying and selling. One name that we would most likely see on the move is Craig Kimbrel.
Kimbrel has really returned to form this season and has been the guy we thought we’d signed to a three-year $43 million deal back in 2018. So far in 2021 he has posted a 0.75 ERA and has converted 14 of 16 save opportunities, good for fourth amongst all closers. After his abysmal start in Chicago, he is proving his worth and has put a staple in the back of this bullpen.
All that being said, if the Cubs are still in position to add at the deadline, Kimbrel may still be on the move. He is set to be a free agent at the end of the year and the Cubs have showcased the depth of their bullpen so far this season. Losing Kimbrel would have the least impact out of all the pieces that could bring back value.
Looking at potential landing spots for the Chicago Cubs closer
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The first team that could find a fit for Kimbrel is the Philadelphia Phillies. They currently have the eighth-worst bullpen in baseball with a 4.54 ERA. Their lineup is built to win now and have a starting rotation and offense that sits in the middle of the league. In a division that’s up for grabs in the NL East, adding a big arm to bolster their staff would have to give them a big opportunity to make an October push.
Another option also comes from the NL East in the Atlanta Braves. Kimbrel’s old team would be a great fit for a group that has the fifth-worst bullpen in baseball with a 4.78 ERA. The starting rotation has faced some bad luck with injuries and again this division has proven to be up for grabs. Kimbrel could be a prize that separates one team from the rest out east.
Ideally no one on this team gets dealt at the deadline but that’s not realistic. Not saying we could afford to lose Kimbrel, but he’s the most realistic option to be traded and the Cubs could adapt to his absence given the depth in the bullpen.
There are plenty of capable arms that could step up and fill the void and it would help the Cubs keep their eye on the future while still pushing for wins now.