The Red Sox should say no to Craig Kimbrel
We’re just a few short weeks away from the Trade Deadline and things are about to heat up around the league. Earlier today, the Red Sox popped into the conversation when ESPN’s Buster Olney had mentioned that the team could be in the market for trade target Craig Kimbrel. This instantly piqued my interest but then the more I thought about it, it just doesn’t feel right at this time.
If this were last season I would totally be on board with Chaim Bloom trying to bring back the World Champion closer, but 2021 is an entirely different animal. When the team was in transition and hadn’t quite nailed down their ninth-inning man, I’d jump at the chance for Kimbrel to return, but the Red Sox have their own fireballer in the bullpen to close out games. While Dirty Craig is an All-Star, Matt Barnes is also heading to Colorado with All-Star honors to represent Boston.
The two closers have been stellar this season but it’s clear that Kimbrel has found himself again in Chicago and is deserving of the respect he’s getting this year. Through last night, he owns an insane 0.59 ERA through 30.2 innings of work with a 0.652 WHIP, he’s also averaging 15.9 K/9. Any team that does the trade for him at the deadline instantly becomes better and he could be the one piece that pushes that squad to the Fall Classic.
On the other hand, Barnes has been resurgent this season and has finally taken the reigns of his career. For the longest time, his potential made him one of the better relievers in the league but something never seemed to click. Whether it was not trusting his fastball or relying too heavily on being cute with his curveball, something was missing. Since being named Boston’s closer he has been lights-out with a 2.68 ERA in 37 innings with an 0.865 WHIP. Much like Kimbrel, his K/9 is through the roof at a 15.1.
If we want to look to the next layer we can break down a comparison in regards to walks and strikeouts where Barnes actually takes the lead. Both men sit at 10 walks while Matty Backpacks edges out Dirty Craig 62-53 in the whiff department. Now, we’ve gone over the majority of the stats but all the matters at the end of the night are whether or not these guys can shut the game down. This is a pretty damn close race as Kimbrel sits at 20 saves while Barnes is at 19. However, Kimbrel takes the day with only a pair of blown saves to Barnes’ four.
The numbers are pretty close and while Craig is having one hell of a season, I think Bloom and the Red Sox should stay away from him. It never hurts to have more weapons in your pitching arsenal but right now the Boston bullpen is firing on all cylinders.
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Hirokazu Sawamura is showing to be one hell of an investment while Adam Ottavino has proved himself as both a set-up man and closer in times of need. Add in Garrett Whitlock and Josh Taylor and there just isn’t much room for another arm in the back end of the bullpen. If anything, the Red Sox need to add an arm for the earlier relief innings in order to get to the big guns to close things out.
For as good as Kimbrel was when he was with the Red Sox, and he was pretty damn good, this just isn’t a good fit in the current climate of this squad. At the end of the day, the biggest need this team has is a first baseman that can make contact. As much as I love Bobby Dalbec he’s just too inconsistent and is still developing. I’d take a veteran first baseman that can put the ball in play with Bobby playing in a sub role. If only Mitch Moreland were still calling Fenway Park home.
If the Red Sox were in need of a closer or even just a big arm for the bullpen, I’d be more interested in a deal to bring Kimbrel back to Boston. But there’s a reason that Matty B is an All-Star and I wouldn’t want to wreck his confidence by bringing in another closer. As fun as it is to think about how much nastier this bullpen would be with Dirty Craig in the group, it just isn’t a right fit and Bloom should stay away if Chicago calls.