Red Sox Rumors: Boston still among teams listed as Craig Kimbrel suitors
By Sean Penney
The latest rumors surrounding free agent closer Craig Kimbrel still mention the Boston Red Sox as a potential landing spot.
We’re only a few short weeks away from the start of spring training and Craig Kimbrel is still looking for a home. While there doesn’t appear to have been any progress in the market for the free agent closer, that doesn’t mean teams have forgotten about him. Several teams have Kimbrel on their radar, including the Boston Red Sox.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Red Sox are still in the mix of suitors for Kimbrel.
The report suggests the Atlanta Braves are “lying in the weeds” waiting to strike a deal for Kimbrel. This contradicts comments made by Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos, who implied that Kimbrel was out of their price range. This statement echoes what Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has been spouting all winter – Kimbrel is a great player but the team isn’t planning on spending big on a closer.
The stance taken by the Braves and Red Sox could simply be posturing by executives who aren’t willing to sacrifice leverage at the negotiating table by tipping their hand. They say they can’t pay Kimbrel what he wants but if frigid market conditions force the price to drop it opens the window for either team to reunite with their former closer.
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Interest from the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals may boil down to where Bryce Harper ends up. The NL East rivals are competing for the former MVP in free agency. The team that lands Harper would seem poised to be a contender, increasing the need for an elite closer. The Phillies haven’t been shy about their desire to spend money this winter but it seems unnecessary to pay for the luxury of a top-tier closer unless you have a team ready to win. Kimbrel can put a contending team over the top but he alone doesn’t turn either of these teams into a contender.
The Minnesota Twins are a dark horse candidate in this race. Signing free agent slugger Nelson Cruz signals that they intend to compete in a division where Cleveland is the only real threat. It may seem strange for a team that finished three games below .500 last season to be in the market for Kimbrel but the Twins were closer to the top of the division than they were to third place in the AL Central.
Then there’s the mystery team – there’s always a mystery team, right? Although in this case, it’s hard to fathom who it may be. The list of teams with money to spend, an obvious need at the back end of the bullpen, and in a position to win now is non-existent beyond the teams mentioned in Heyman’s report.
We know that Kimbrel will pitch somewhere in 2019 but time is running out for him to agree on a contract and report to camp on time. We should get more clarity soon but at the moment, the list of suitors is as wide open as it was when free agency opened in November.