Boston Red Sox Top-5 bullpen trade targets
Aug 26, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) throws to the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning at Nationals Park. The San Diego Padres won 6-5. Mandatory Credit:Brad Mills
-USA TODAY Sports
2015 Stats: 39 saves, 2.58 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 13.20 K/9
Kimbrel has been one of the game’s best closers for the last half decade, posting an absurd 1.63 ERA for his career while racking up 225 saves. The San Diego Padres paid a handsome price to acquire him last winter, but their plans to reload blew up in their faces. Kimbrel did his part, but the Padres still lost 88 games and appear nowhere near contention.
Kimbrel had the 5th best strikeout rate in the majors in what was actually the worst year of his career. The 14.55 K/9 he has averaged in his career would have been the third best in the majors if he had equaled that this season. Not many relievers would scoff at his ERA, but it’s nearly a full run higher than what he has produced in his career. This year was also the first time since 2011 that he failed to produce a WHIP under 1.00, which is pretty incredible when you consider that only 21 relievers in the majors posted a sub-1.00 WHIP this year (minimum 40 IP). Even in what is considered an off year for him, Kimbrel remains one of the league’s best.
With the Padres forced to take a step back, unloading Kimbrel should be near the top of their list. No losing team has any business paying $11 million for a closer, but the Red Sox have the financial resources to take on the $24 million in guaranteed money owed to him over the next two years, plus the $13 million team option for 2018. It’s a steep price to pay, but the Red Sox are one of few teams with a significant need for a reliever of his caliber and the payroll budget to afford him without forcing the Padres to chip in for part of the bill, which could help keep the asking price down. Given that there is a year less on his contract now, the price the Red Sox have to pay should be less than what San Diego paid a year ago.
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