The Chicago White Sox will be exercising their $16 million club option on reliever Craig Kimbrel, a source familiar with the situation tells ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 6, 2021
The 33-year-old was traded to the White Sox at the 2021 deadline.
Unfortunately, his time with the team in 2021 was a massive disappointment.
Over 24 regular-season appearances with Chicago, he posted a 5.09 ERA and 4.56 FIP.
To make matters worse, he pitched poorly in the playoffs, allowing three runs over two innings of work.
Many folks feel that Kimbrel’s struggles were a product of him being taken out of his traditional ninth-inning role.
Throughout his career, he has always had a difficult time pitching in non-save situations, and when the White Sox used him as a setup man in 2021, it simply didn’t work.
It seems like Kimbrel needs to be used as a closer.
Today, we’re going to look at some possible trade destinations for him, but we’re only going to discuss teams that would use him in the ninth inning.
The Chicago #WhiteSox are expected to pick up reliever Craig Kimbrel's $16 million option and then trade him during the winter. He badly struggled as a setup man, allowing 31 baserunners in 23 innings, including a 5.09 ERA. There will be plenty of teams looking for closers.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 13, 2021
Let’s get started.
3. Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels had the luxury of using Raisel Iglesias as their closer in 2021, but that might not be the case in 2022.
The righty is a free agent this offseason.
L.A. certainly seems interested in re-signing him, but there’s always a chance the team could get outbid.
Angels’ qualifying offer ($18.4M) to Raisel Iglesias would represent a record salary for a reliever should he accept, breaking Liam Hendriks’ $18M record. Unlikely he’d accept, though, as multiyear deals await one of the game’s top closers. Good call by Angels to make the offer.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 8, 2021
If the Angels do lose him, they’ll have a big hole to fill, as Iglesias was an elite ninth-inning guy in 2021.
He pitched to a 2.57 ERA, 2.83 FIP, and 0.93 WHIP over 65 appearances.
If L.A. is serious about finally building a contending team, the bullpen is going to have to be a point of emphasis this winter.
Why not roll the dice on Kimbrel?
After the Angels’ bullpen posted a 4.59 ERA in the 2021 regular season, nothing should be off the table.
Plus, in five career outings at Angel Stadium, Kimbrel hasn’t allowed a run.
Make of that what you will.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
For our next team, let’s keep it in California.
The Kenley Jansen era might come to an end for the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason, as the 34-year-old is a free agent.
Obviously, if the two sides do part ways, the Dodgers are going to have a big void to fill.
Jansen proved in 2021 that he still has plenty left in the tank, as he registered a 2.22 ERA over 69 appearances.
That’s tough to replace.
At minimum, the team should entertain the idea of adding Kimbrel.
One thing is for sure: The Dodgers will have to address their closing role one way or another.
1. Boston Red Sox
How about a Kimbrel reunion with the Boston Red Sox?
It makes a lot of sense on paper.
Boston’s All-Star closer, Matt Barnes, imploded in the second half of the 2021 season.
As a result, he wasn’t even included on the team’s ALCS roster.
Meanwhile, Boston’s setup man, Adam Ottavino, is a free agent this offseason.
If the Red Sox lose Ottavino to free agency, they’re going to need a new eighth-inning guy.
What if the eighth-inning guy became Barnes and the ninth-inning guy became Kimbrel?
It’s certainly an interesting possibility.
Craig Kimbrel, 98mph Fastball (foul) and 87mph Knuckle Curve (Sword/K), Overlay with Tails. pic.twitter.com/kdMmLH0E23
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 11, 2021
Kimbrel’s last stint with the Red Sox was a smashing success, as he earned All-Star selections in all three of his years with the team.
More importantly, he helped Boston win the 2018 World Series.
Will the two sides link up again?
Time will tell.