One thing the Red Sox have not needed is a top notch closer the last three years. Koji Uehara has been brilliant (1.82 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 72 saves) for the most part, save a few hiccups, with a championship to show for it. But Uehara lost the last month of his season to a broken wrist last year and will be 41 years old in a few weeks. While it is wonderful to have many great prospects not all of them can play in the majors at the same time. President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski knew that when he traded elite prospects Javier Guerra and Manuel Margot to the San Diego Padres for one of the elite closers in the game of baseball, Craig Kimbrel.
When you start simply with the fact, the man has pitched five years in the majors, and has 225 saves and a 1.63 career ERA, one doesn’t need to go much further, but let’s take a look a little deeper at his supposed decline. Last season, Kimbrel “slumped” to a 2.58, almost a run higher than his 1.61 ERA in 2015. What his slump really amounted to was a bad six weeks at the start of last season in which he allowed nine earned runs over 13.2 innings. After that, the Alabama native, posted a 1.58 ERA in 45.2 innings for the remainder of that season. Perhaps it was a bit of embarrassment that fueled his return to dominance, but a .120 batting average against in the second half of the season last year tells you all you need to know about what he can still do.
Kimbrel is only 27 years old. He is under Red Sox team control for another three seasons. Last year can easily be attributed to a guy being traded the day before the season away from the organization he had ever known to one across the country. This season, Kimbrel has had plenty of time to adjust to the cauldron that can be playing for the Red Sox. While this writer is not hoping for a Davis implosion, it is not hard to imagine Kimbrel atop this list next season after another stellar campaign, this time in Boston.
Next: 3. Aroldis Chapman