Craig Kimbrel Traded to White Sox from Cubs Ahead of 2021 MLB Deadline

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIJuly 30, 2021

Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel delivers in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Friday, June 11, 2021, in Chicago. The Cubs won 8-5. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

The Chicago Cubs traded closer Craig Kimbrel to the Chicago White Sox in a crosstown move ahead of Friday's trade deadline.

The Cubs confirmed they dealt their closer to the White Sox in exchange for second baseman Nick Madrigal and pitcher Codi Heuer.

Jeff Passan of ESPN first reported the deal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today shared the return.

This was the second trade of the week between the crosstown rivals as the White Sox also acquired Ryan Tepera in a trade Thursday.

Through 39 innings this season, Kimbrel has an ERA of 0.49, a 0.71 WHIP and 23 saves. He's struck out 64 while issuing 13 walks. 

Chicago won a bidding war to sign Kimbrel as a free agent during the 2019 season, inking the 2018 World Series champion to a three-year, $43 million deal that got off to a rocky start. The reliever was placed on the injured list with knee inflammation in August for two weeks before finishing the season 0-4 with a 6.53 ERA and 13 saves in 20.2 innings as the Cubs missed the postseason. 

Kimbrel wasn't much better during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season (5.28 ERA, 2 saves, 15.1 IP), though the Cubs made the playoffs, losing a National League Wild Card Series to the Miami Marlins

As the 33-year-old worked himself back in All-Star form in 2021, Chicago continued to sink in the standings, finding fewer uses for its closer as blowouts became the norm. That made the veteran late-innings star an optimal trade target. 

He heads to the White Sox seeking another opportunity to pitch in the postseason and win his second World Series. Kimbrel's tenure on the north side of Chicago may have included more downs than ups, but the closer has proved he's still a shutdown reliever more often than not. 

It was more than enough for the White Sox to come calling for the eight-time All-Star. 

With Liam Hendriks already in the bullpen, the AL Central squad could be especially dangerous heading into the playoffs.