Craig Kimbrel’s contract is up at the end of the season. The Boston Red Sox could re-sign the star closer. Durbin Feltman gives them options though.
For eight seasons, Craig Kimbrel has been one of the best closers in baseball. In fact, there’s a pretty strong argument for putting Kimbrel at the top of the list. His contract is up at the end of the season, and many would think it’s a no-brainer that the Boston Red Sox will try to re-sign him. Durbin Feltman gives them a reason not to though.
Kimbrel’s undeniably one of the best closers in baseball. That being said, his three years with the Red Sox haven’t been perfect. 2017 was one of the best seasons of his career, but 2016 was the worst, and 2018 has seen it’s fair share of problems.
Those problems include a career-worst seven home runs allowed and the second-worst BB/9 of his career (4.1). Despite those, Kimbrel’s still having a strong season, and once again is considered near the top at his position.
Due to that, the closer will command a lot of money this offseason. He’s making $13 million this season and it wouldn’t be surprising if he asks to be the highest-paid closer in baseball. Currently that honor sits with Aroldis Chapman ($17,200,000).
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The Red Sox have had payroll problems for the last few seasons, so throwing that type of money at a closer who hasn’t been at his best might not be the direction they want to go in.
Meanwhile, Feltman is tearing up the minors. When he was drafted in June, there were talks that he could find his way to the Majors by the end of the season. At this point in time, he’s with the Salem Red Sox (Advanced-A) so that doesn’t seem likely – but it’s nothing to do with his performance.
Through 18 2/3 innings (between three levels of the minors), Feltman’s dominated the competition. The 21-year-old has a 1.45 ERA and 0.86 WHIP. Opponents are batting .188 against him and have yet to hit a home run. The right-hander also has 29 strikeouts compared to three walks and is 4-for-4 in save opportunities.
When he was drafted, the consensus was that Feltman could grow into a dominant closer in the Majors. Signing Kimbrel would mean Feltman wouldn’t get his chance for at least another five years (let’s be honest, Kimbrel isn’t signing a short-term deal).
While Kimbrel is without-a-doubt the best closer on the market, it may be smart of the Red Sox to go another way. They could sign a stop-gap player to a short one-or-two-year contract, with the idea that Feltman will take over at some point in that time. Another option would be for Boston to head into Spring Training of 2019 without a defined closer, and give Feltman the chance to win the spot before the regular season starts.
With their recent money woes, it’s time for the Red Sox to start cracking down on spending at least a little bit. The drafting and dominance of Durbin Feltman doesn’t make Craig Kimbrel expendable, but it definitely gives the Red Sox options.