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MLB Rumors: Craig Kimbrel Free Agency Update

One of the best relievers in baseball remains unsigned three weeks into the season as Craig Kimbrel is still waiting for his next team.

Jim Bowden recently reported in a story for The Athletic that Kimbrel is seeking a five year deal with over $100 million.

Now, Ken Rosenthal reports Kimbrel is seeking a deal that would likely bring more interest from teams.

If Kimbrel is really looking for a three-year deal in the range of $39 to $52m, then it is a surprise he is still a free agent since so many teams have had bullpen troubles. The reported asking price should really interest teams since Kimbrel is better than both Wade Davis and Zack Britton and he has been better for longer.

Kimbrel, 30, has been one of the most productive closers in baseball history. He has a career 1.91 ERA, 1.96 FIP, 2.16 xFIP, 14.67 K/9, and 3.46 BB/9. Last season, he put up a 2.74 ERA, 3.13 FIP and xFIP. 13.86 K/9, and 4.48 BB/9 for the Boston Red Sox.

Although it does appear likely that teams are waiting so they don’t have to give up a draft pick to sign him.

Dodgers Analysis

The Dodgers need to be talking to Kimbrel, if that is indeed his asking price. With Joe Kelly’s struggles and the bullpen looking like a mess overall, pairing him with Kenley Jansen at the back end would help solve their problems.

Another added benefit would be keeping Kimbrel away from the teams they’ll be competing with to get to the World Series.

He would likely slot into the ninth inning role, with Jansen becoming their high leverage reliever.

The last five postseasons, and more specifically, the last two, have shown how valuable a lock-down bullpen is. Adding an elite reliever for just money should be something the Dodgers are all over.

Written by Blake Williams

I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Journalism from Los Angeles Pierce College and now I'm working towards my Bachelor's at Cal State University, Northridge. I'm currently the managing editor for the Roundup News and a writer for Dodgers Nation. Around the age of 12, I fell in love with baseball and in high school, I realized my best path to working in baseball was as a writer, so that's the path I followed. I also like to bring an analytics viewpoint to my work and I'm always willing to help someone understand them since so many people have done the same for me. Thanks for reading!

12 Comments

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    • Friedman owes it to the Dodger nation to help fix the problem he created in the bull pen. He is totally responsible for the mess we have, but he isn’t going to spend the money. He never does except for Kelly when it come to relief pitching and look what Kelly has done. If he lets Kimbrel sing with anyone that we have to face as a contender, Friedman should be strung up. He has caused more heart burn from his lack of moves or ones that haven’t worked out and this looks like another one.

  1. The anger in comments is amazing.

    I agree with the author that I would sign Kimbrel if for no other reason than to keep him away from teams we might see in the playoffs. It has been said many times by Baseball Executives that their Bullpens keep them sleepless at night.

    While the Bullpen as constructed is owned by Friedman the lack of them signing Kimbrel is probably an organizational one. I believe they would need to give up another draft pick and go over their budget limit to sign him. Also Kimbrel had his issues in the playoffs even after he stopped tipping his pitches I doubt they will sign him unless he is around in June when they apparently do not lose the draft pick and can prorate his deal. The Dodgers highly value draft picks.I was amazed they signed Pollock.

    The Dodgers have brought up two young bullpen arms in Jamie Schultz, who pitched well in clean up today and Josh Sborz who I am excited to see in action in the MLB. Using the Farm that has some great young arms like Schultz and Sborz plus guys like Stetson Allie is what the Dodger plan is, Period. As Kershaw, Hill and Ryu get back we will see Urias and Stripling go back to the Bullpen which should help immensely

    Also want to give a standing ovation for Ross Stripling who pitched a masterful and much needed 8 inning game allowing only one run. Ross does not get the credit he deserves. Stripling is 1-1 and should have a better record except the Bullpen imploded in a couple of his games he also has very good numbers as far as WHIP and ERA.

    Let’s talk good news! Barnes & Bellinger are continuing to hit well. Pollock looks to be a good fit as he makes contact and moves the runner and as we all had hoped Verdugo is playing and hitting well even in the very difficult intermittent player roll.

    This team is 9-8 and should be around 13-4 with Turner, Seager and Taylor not hitting well at all. Not a Taylor or a Pederson fan. Instead of CT3 they should call him SOT. Pederson was hot out of the gate but has cooled drastically and even if he runs into a pitch occasionally his lack of ability to move the runner and make contact when necessary is maddening.

    I would bet that Turner gets hot and Seager gets acclimated back to big league pitching and the offense explodes. I would bench Taylor and play Verdugo. Look at the kid’s numbers in a part time roll….

    • You make some excellent points. As for Peterson, having played the game myself, I know its tough to be in the lineup and then to have to sit for a week with only a pinch hitting opportunity makes it tough to keep your timing and rhythm. I agree he doesn’t do much to move runners and doesn’t hit enough to be an everyday player. As for the pitching, sad but our first five can’t seem to get through a season without extended stints on the DL. Everyone says we are deep in starters. That may only be true if Stripling and Urias are moved into starting roles which weakens the bullpen. I was glad to see Sborz and Shultz moved up. Shultz was good this past spring and looked good today even though he had trouble getting his breaking ball over for strikes. I still hold Friedman accountable for that debacle two years ago when he could of had Verlander instead of Darvish. And if he had made that move, we would of won the World Series and Verlander would still be a part of the rotation today. Friedman loves go sign broken arms or guys who are washed up where it doesn’t cost him much. He loves our prospects but lets remember only 3 percent make it to the majors. Some show more promise than others but when you can get a solid arm or position player for some of your prospects when your team needs to match up with other teams you are going to face in the playoffs of WS that’s a gamble I’ll take. If Friedman wants to keep his prospects, so be it. That means he could then spend some money and get some of the free agents that are there every year that would strengthen our club but he just won”t spend the money and we all know how he is with the bucks. Anyway, your analysis was good.

      • Well, as far as Kimbrel goes, at the very least he won’t cost us prospects, good ones who are already up and coming. As far as draft picks go, they could be a crap shoot because very few will ever see an actual MLB field. whatever the case the state of this year’s current BP is totally on him and partly on the way Roberts manages this pitching staff. I concur that giving Sborz and Schultz a chance up here certainly cannot hurt.

  2. It’s funny, yet exhausting to keep reading posts from clueless fans. This team has won the division every year Friedman has been here. How many other teams have won 6 straight? Yup…ZERO. AF has done more right then any Dodger’s GM in 20 years. It would take me 5 paragraphs to name the major decisions he’s gotten right. Probably 2 sentences of the one’s he’s been wrong. I’m glad so many of your are perfect in life and at your job and never make a mistake. Having played, can anyone grasp the difficulty of predicting the human body under 162 workload? Good luck. I’m sure it’s the same people that begged for Harper that are wanting Kimbrel. He wisely pased on BH and he will do the same on Kimbrel. It’s a great decade to be a Dodger’s fan, lets all enjoy it and support these guys while times are good.

    • Many here would be in agreement with you here to a certain extent. But for most fans , it’s looking at WS Rings, which have not been won since 1988. A little better in game management of lineups and in game decisions (especially with pitching) and Dodgers perhaps win 1 of these 2 WS in the past 2 years. I will admit that there was NO team in MLB last year that would have fared any better against the Red Sox. Keep in mind that it also is not the easiest thing to do these days to get in 3 consecutive WS so WSS. Nobody IMHO is taking anything away from having won 6 straight Division titles either.

  3. Not sold on adding Kimbrel. First off, I think it upsets the clubhouse. And then it sits in the back of Kenley’s mind. We have a solid team with only a tweak or 2 needed in the bullpen. Don’t overlook Baez; and Kelly should return to normal for him. Shultz looked good, Ferguson has looked good. Floro has looked good. And Alexander has looked good. Has Kenley had any blown saves yet? No. Sit tight with who we have. We will be fine

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