MLB Rumors: Craig Kimbrel Is 'Closer' to Signing Contract Amid Brewers Interest

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27:  Closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Craig Kimbrel's free agency may be winding to a close.

According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the veteran relief pitcher is "moving 'closer' to a decision on where he will sign his next contract, one source said Monday, but the situation remains sufficiently fluid that there is no clear favorite to sign the seven-time All-Star closer."

Morosi also noted that the Milwaukee Brewers have spoken with Kimbrel's agent in recent weeks, though "Milwaukee's need for Kimbrel is tied to the performance and durability of reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who has yet to pitch in the Majors this season because of weakness in his right (throwing) shoulder."

According to that report, the Atlanta Braves are also monitoring the Kimbrel market. 

The cost will be the question for any potential suitors. Ken Rosenthal of MLB.com (h/t Morosi) reported that Kimbrel was seeking a deal in the Wade Davis (three years, $52 million) and Zach Britton (three years, $39 million) range. That's no small chunk of change for a closer, though it's hardly unrealistic for a player of Kimbrel's level.

The 30-year-old Kimbrel has produced at an elite level in his career, with 333 saves in 367 opportunities. The seven-time All-Star and 2018 World Series champion finished last season with a 5-1 record, recording 42 saves in 47 opportunities. He posted a 2.74 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 62.1 innings. 

There are a number of contending teams that could use an upgrade like Kimbrel at the back end of their bullpen, making his continued free agency a surprise. And he's going to miss time even when he does sign, cutting his season short. But with plenty of bullpens around baseball struggling, Kimbrel should find a home soon.

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