Red Sox should focus on Joe Kelly rather than Craig Kimbrel

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Mitch Moreland
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 11: Mitch Moreland /

With the Red Sox bringing back Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi, the question still lingers over the heads of Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel.

As free agency is heating up, we’re seeing many deals getting completed in quick succession. In regards to the Boston Red Sox, postseason heroes Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi have been locked down and will return to defend the title they helped Boston achieve. While the Sox are linked with external talent, as they look to polish off the roster for the upcoming season, it remains a mystery whether they’ll bring back Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, or let them walk with their rings.

While both the fiery reliever and elite closer have been vital to what the Sox have achieved over the past season, it looks unlikely that the front office will splash out on the two pitchers. With the likes of David Price, J.D. Martinez and Rick Porcello taking up a vast amount of the payroll, and Pablo Sandoval disaster of a contract still on the books, there are important financial decisions to be made going forward. The Red Sox have just won the World Series, and this team is great how it is, but room will need to be made to keep a number of beloved starts in Beantown for years to come. Star Mookie Betts is going to command an enormous deal, and ace Chris Sale will enter free agency before the 2020 season – which will be a costly process to look to make sure the two stay in Boston.

Right now there’s no big problem, in terms of the payroll, but to keep the best players adjustments will need to be made. That’s why choosing either Kelly or Kimbrel is the right decision. And, in the long run, Kelly would be the wiser choice.

Kelly will likely command a 3-year deal, earning roughly $9 million per season. Kimbrel, on the other hand, will get offered a 4-year deal from someone, which could be worth up to $80 million. Both would benefit Boston going forward but, financially, Kelly would be the better option. His uplifting spirit and his ability to go through very hot streaks on the mound would continue to push the Red Sox onwards. $9 million is a number which would need to be considered highly, but, when it comes to playoff time, what he can do and what he did do in 2018 is worth every penny and more.

If Boston brings Kelly back, we will hope to see him continue with his fighting spirit and specifically to maintain his form and be a more reliable pitcher for the duration of the season. Paying Kelly would leave a sum of salary sufficient enough to bring in another pitcher to take over for Kimbrel. The likes of 2018 Indians pitcher Andrew Miller would likely command a check in the region of Kelly’s rather than Kimbrel. There are plenty of pitchers who could fit into this closing spot and paired together with Kelly’s deal, could still be a lot cheaper than just signing Kimbrel on his own.

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Kimbrel has been as dominant a closing option as they come over his time at Fenway. As one of the best closers that has graced this ball club, he’ll remain a star in the eyes of Red Sox fans. If he comes back, then he will be backed, but it’s a big commitment. Brining back Kelly should remain a priority, as well as more bullpen and closing help to make sure this team is ready to go again come the start of the 2019 season.