It’s crunch time for Jed Hoyer and the Chicago Cubs. There’s no shortage of speculation surrounding the team right now, especially when it comes to Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel. Given the latter can be controlled through 2022, though, the asking price is steep – and you can bet Hoyer’s phone is ringing off the hook.
Kimbrel’s trade value is immense and will probably be as high as it ever will be in the remainder of his career. Take a glance at the numbers. Kimbrel’s 0.49 ERA in 36 2/3 innings pitched is league-leading among closers in 2021.
With an extra year of team control due to a club option for $16 million next year, Kimbrel has become the most sought after trade chip on the market. With the recent trade of Andrew Chafin to the Oakland Athletics, the unexpected return of the A’s #9 prospect, Greg Deichmann, it begs the question of what a potential haul for a pitcher of Kimbrel’s caliber would return.
A lot to keep in mind when trying to piece this all together. Of course, Chafin is enjoying a career year with a 2.06 ERA that far outpaces the 3.47 mark over the course of his eight-year career. For perspective, Kimbrel’s career ERA is 2.07 across the span of 12 years. That fact that he not only has had such a remarkably consistent career, coupled with him being on pace to have the best year he’s ever had, should tell you how valuable of a player he is to a team’s backend of a bullpen.
The Chicago Cubs need to think realistically in terms of Kimbrel. Yes, he has been the most dominant closer in baseball this year. Again, I might add. Yes, the Cubs desperately needed a closer when they signed him and they will need one again. Yes, trading Chafin and Kimbrel signals a white flag being raised for the season. No, the Cubs are not a World Series-caliber team even if they hold on to Kimbrel.
Therefore, they need to get as much as they can for him to set themselves up better moving forward. Kimbrel himself can net a return one of a team’s top prospects. A bold trade including Kimbrel and another good player/prospect could net you the type of return that shapes the team for the next decade.
With rumors across MLB heating up, let’s take a look at teams that are inquiring about Kimbrel and a potential return that could be had for his services.