Closer Craig Kimbrel remains unsigned even though we’re roughly one-third of the way through the 2019 regular season. A number of teams have at least cursory interest in Kimbrel, the Braves, Twins, Phillies, Rays, and Phillies potentially among them. Now, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, you can add the first-place Chicago Cubs to this list.
“For now, the Cubs are doing background work on Kimbrel and trying to figure out whether such a move would be financially viable, sources say.”
Rosenthal’s story has more, including why the Cubs may now be willing to pay the going rate for Kimbrel when such a thing seemed quite unlikely mere weeks ago.
The Cubs right now rank a respectable third in the NL in bullpen ERA, but they rank just seventh in, or fielding-independent pitching, which raises some concerns about performance moving forward. More to the point, the Cubs are tied for last in the NL in save percentage. Kimbrel would of course directly address that deficit.
While there’s good reason to think Kimbrel will never again be a true dominator, he still projects as being quite good in 2019, which will be his age-31 campaign. This past season, Kimbrel for the champion Red Sox pitched to a 2.74 ERA/160 ERA+ with a 3.10 K/BB ratio in 62 1/3 innings. The strikeout numbers remain impressive, but Kimbrel struggled badly with his control in 2018. That continued to be the case during the Sox’s run to the World Series trophy.
At present Kimbrel has 333 saves and a career ERA of 1.91. In 532 2/3 career innings, he’s struck out 868 batters.