MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Free-Agent Craig Kimbrel, Hanley Ramirez and More

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2019

The Brewers and Braves are apparently pursuing Craig Kimbrel, who remains unsigned.
The Brewers and Braves are apparently pursuing Craig Kimbrel, who remains unsigned.Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Craig Kimbrel still does not know which team he will be pitching for during the 2019 MLB season.

Even though Kimbrel has been one of the game's best and most elite closers, he has not been able to nail down a contract for 2019 and beyond.

Kimbrel was a star for the Boston Red Sox each of the past three seasons, but Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski chose not to get involved in the free-agent bidding process for the reliever.

The hard-throwing closer may be edging towards a deal with either the Milwaukee Brewers or the Atlanta Braves, according to David O'Brien of The Athletic.

The Braves would appear to have the greatest need for a closer since the Brewers have Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader anchoring their bullpen, and both were outstanding last year.

Atlanta was much improved last season and won the National League East, but it could use a proven closer to upgrade their pitching staff. 

Kimbrel pitched the first five years of his career with the Braves and then spent one year with the San Diego Padres before moving onto the Red Sox.

He has been a seven-time All-Star in his career as he prepares to pitch in his 10th big-league season. Kimbrel pitched 62.1 innings for the Red Sox last season, and he struck out 96 batters. He had a 2.74 earned-run average, a 0.995 WHIP and 42 saves.

However, he struggled in Boston's postseason run to a World Series title. He had an 11.57 ERA in two games in the divisional series against the New York Yankees, 4.50 ERA in three games against the Houston Astros and a 4.15 ERA in four games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He was also shaky in the 2017 divisional series against the Astros.

Former Red Sox shortstop Hanley Ramirez has been with the Cleveland Indians throughout spring training, but his stay has not been an impressive one.

Ramirez, who was released by the Red Sox during the 2018 season and sat out the remainder of the year, may not be demonstrating enough power to make the team.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe wrote in his Sunday MLB Notes column that the Indians have called in some of their scouts to give the Indians a bit more confirmation on the situation.

Ramirez has shown some life in spring training games with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI in 36 at bats (38 plate appearances). However, there may be more to the story than those numbers, and if that is the case, the Indians may not keep him.

Reliever John Axford has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays, per MLB.com insider Jon Heyman.

Axford pitched for the Blue Jays and the Dodgers last season, and Heyman tweeted that he is going to rehab his elbow prior to signing.

The 35-year-old had been working with a minor-league deal from the Blue Jays but was released Saturday. Sportsnet baseball columnist Shi Davidi tweeted that was a way for the Blue Jays to rework his contract.

Axford was 4-1 in his work with the Jays and Dodgers last year, and he had a 5.27 combined ERA while allowing 52 hits in 54.2 innings.

Axford's best season came in 2010 when he saved 46 games for the Milwaukee Brewers, appeared in 74 games and had 73.2 innings pitched. Axford has not registered a save since he had three in 2016. 

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