Red Sox: Reacting to MLB Trade Rumor’s free agent predictions
Predicted Contract: Four years, $70MM from the St. Louis Cardinals
This contract would not be a surprise for Kimbrel. The Red Sox extended him a qualifying offer of one year, $17.9MM, which he is all but certain to reject. His reasoning for this would be that he can, in all likelihood, obtain a contract roughly this size from someone like the Cardinals.
Currently, the highest paid reliever in baseball is Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, who is on a five-year deal worth $86MM, which amounts to $17.2MM per year. Kimbrel is likely looking to beat this yearly average. The difference between the two players, though, is age. Chapman was 28 when he signed his deal and Kimbrel is 30.
This, along with a decline in performance this year, would likely make the Red Sox hesitate to give him a contract of this size. His walks and home runs were up, and he had a mostly rough postseason. He didn’t actually blow any saves, but he gave up at least one run in five out of his nine outings. He was able to bounce back in the World Series but there was still a sense of nervousness every time he came out to pitch.
This is a large contract for the Red Sox to commit to a closer at this time. Especially after we’ve seen Alex Cora get creative with his bullpen in the playoffs, they would probably be smart to pass on this contract and let someone like Matt Barnes slide into the closer role, while adding a versatile reliever like Andrew Miller.