When Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer came to the Chicago Cubs from the White Sox in a trade for Craig Kimbrel in July, it quickly became clear who came away winners in that deal.
Now, Kimbrel might be on the move again after the White Sox shored up their bullpen, signing Kendall Graveman to a three-year deal, worth $24 million. After watching Kimbrel with the White Sox, the deal makes sense.
Kimbrel’s time on the South Side has been forgettable, to say the least. He posted a 5.09 ERA in 24 games with five home runs surrendered in just 23 innings. Compare that to his time with the Cubs, when he had a 0.49 ERA with 23 saves and 64 strikeouts in just 36 2/3 innings.
The White Sox exercised the 2022 option on Kimbrel’s contract and, now, he may be on the move again. Wouldn’t it be fitting if the Cubs traded back for him? The Cubs need pitching, and they are familiar with Kimbrel, so why not bring him back and bring the trade full circle?
One of the bigger problems with Kimbrel on the White Sox was the walks again. The issue pops up from time to time, and he walked ten hitters in 23 innings, which isn’t great. He also didn’t close games, and he has historically had problems in any sort of non-closer role.
Kimbrel is already one of the greatest closers of all-time, with 372 saves, which ranks ninth best all-time, and he is five away from passing Joe Nathan for eighth on the list, and 17 away from tying Dennis Eckersley. His pedigree makes him an attractive trade candidate, as well as his one year contract, making him a free agent at the end of the 2022 season.
Do the Chicago Cubs make sense as a potential Craig Kimbrel trade partner?
There has been a lot of movement on the free agent/trade market early on in this offseason, and the deadline for a new CBA is December 1. If the White Sox want to trade him, or even have an inclination to, he should be moved fast.
It’s also possible the White Sox keep him and have a three-headed monster at the back end of the bullpen, to shorten games a lot like they did in 2021. However, conventional wisdom will say the Sox trade him due to his contract and past performance, and the fact they just signed a guy who traditionally fills the same role. Graveman, who split 2021 between the Mariners and Astros, had a 1.77 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 56 innings.
This was Graveman’s first year as a full-time reliever, and it appears his role has now been found on a Major League roster. If the White Sox choose to trade Kimbrel, the Cubs could do them s a solid, take on his salary and hopefully shore up the bullpen in what would almost certainly amount to a salary dump for the South Siders.