Boston Red Sox players that could be expendable in a trade
I was not impressed by Kimbrel in 2016 and you can place me in the disappointed category. Koji Uehara impressed me to a greater extent in 2013 through 2015. Kimbrel certainly had the “Sexy” fastball and strikeout totals that have been his career calling card. He had the second ranked fastball velocity among American League qualified relievers (97.3 MPH).
What made Kimbrel impressive was his curve – when it found the plate. When Kimbrel was on “His game” the combination of his curve and fastball was virtually unhittable. During 2016 that would surface for extended stretches, but also there was a dark downside.
I find walks about the most reprehensible action a pitcher can perform and that is especially true of relievers. Kimbrel was a master of walks providing a plethora of free passes. Just how bad was it? Kimbrel led the AL relievers with the dubious distinction of a BB/9 at 5.09. The plus – of course – was a fourth best K/9 of 14.09.
Kimbrel’s ERA was 3.40 and his FIP 2.92. For those who worship WAR, his fWAR was 1.2. The fact is Kimbrel had some quite notable pitching meltdowns that usually combined a series of walks. I attended one game where he issued four consecutive walks before being mercifully extracted from the contest. What surprised me is his blown save total was only two for the season.
Where Kimbrel survives is that talent mentioned above – unhittable. Kimbrel was hammered about at .151 and that beat out every reliever in the league, including Zach Britton and Andrew Miller.
Why trade him?
Kimbrel has two more seasons under contract so that is a plus. Kimbrel’s talent level is still a real plus despite a career-high ERA. Was it all just mechanical? Will some semblance of order return in a diminished walk total? Maybe or maybe not. I would not take the chance on a potential train wreck occasionally happening.
The replacement parts are available and most notably is Joe Kelly – if you are looking to replace heat with heat. Kelly touches on the occasional 100 MPH and did average 96.7 velocities on his heater in 2016. Kelly has also been the recipient of numerous chances to “prove” himself with mixed results. Will Kelly be like Miller and suddenly find his niche in the bullpen?
Kelly’s return in September was impressive with only three walks and 20 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched. Kelly posted a 0.64 ERA and the batting average against his serves was .180. That, however, could be an illusion as Kelly also had a remarkable last few months in 2015.
The other options also exist either a high profile free agent such as prying away Aroldis Chapman or going to the resign market for 42-year-old Uehara. Chapman is quite a signing long-shot and his BB/9 is nothing special.
Trade Chance: Low