MLB Rumors: Closer Craig Kimbrel Talking to Brewers in Free Agency

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2019

Boston Red Sox's Craig Kimbrel throws during the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in Boston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Milwaukee Brewers are reportedly interested in adding a World Series champion and seven-time All-Star to their bullpen for the 2019 season.  

On Tuesday, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the reigning National League Central champions had discussions with free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel.

Signing Kimbrel would give the Brewers insurance while Jeremy Jeffress' status is still up in the air:

Tom @Haudricourt

#Brewers GM David Stearns talks about expectations for return of Jeremy Jeffress to active status. https://t.co/drIiLu5pnY

Kimbrel wasted little time making an impact at the start of his MLB career. En route to becoming the 2011 National League Rookie of the Year for the Atlanta Braves, he posted a 2.10 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 46 saves and 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. He has saved 31 or more games eight years in a row, surpassing 40 five times in that span and reaching 50 in 2013.

It's a testament to his longstanding brilliance (1.91 ERA and 0.92 WHIP throughout his career) that his 2018 campaign with the Boston Red Sox was a slight step in the wrong direction. He still finished with a 2.74 ERA and 1.00 WHIP while converting 42 of his 47 save opportunities.

The playoffs were a different story, though. Kimbrel posted a 5.91 ERA in nine appearances. He didn't blow a save on the path to a World Series title, but Red Sox fans endured uneasy adventures every time he entered the game.

Perhaps lingering memories of his postseason struggles have caused his market to slow this offseason, but Kimbrel is still just 30 years old and one of his generation's most dominant closers.

With Josh Hader as the anchor, the Brewers bullpen was a strength in 2018 and finished with the fifth-best ERA in the league. The combination of the left-handed Hader and right-handed Kimbrel at the back end of the 2019 bullpen would be even more daunting for opponents.