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Heyman | Early look at the Craig Kimbrel market

Jon Heyman

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May 5, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) reacts after the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, only 29, became the quickest to 300 saves this week.

Kimbrel has a big-time free agency case, and it’ll be interesting to see if he breaks the record for biggest contract ever for a reliever. Aroldis Chapman, the hardest thrower in baseball history who went to the even-bigger-market Yankees, got a record $86 million, five-year deal – the most ever for a reliever.

(Yankees people later lamented having that happen due to the belief at the time the Marlins were at that level, but as it turned out, the Marlins deal was backloaded beyond belief. And Chapman probably didn’t want to go to the Marlins, anyway.)

“He should break Chapman’s record,” our salary expert says. And we concur.

We’ve already done derbies for Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, Josh Donaldson and A.J. PollockBut Kimbrel – and there’s not talk at the moment with the Red Sox, sources say — should be an interesting competition indeed.

1. Red Sox

They obviously liked him when they sent four prospects to the Padres to get Kimbrel, and they obviously have the wherewithal (Red Sox revenues are sky-high, which explains why they didn’t mind venturing into tax territory).

Odds: 2:1

2. Phillies

They have money to burn, which is well documented. It’s just a matter how they spend it. There’s a possibility the Phillies (with so many ex-Orioles execs in the front office) go for both Orioles stars – Manny Machado and Zach Britton – as they already spent on an ex-Oriole Jake Arrieta.

But Kimbrel would fit the bill, too. They showed they were willing to put serious money into the bullpen.

Odds: 6:1

3. Braves

The Braves are supposed to have money to spend like they haven’t spent since Melvin (B.J. back then) Upton, though they may be more likely to target third base or the outfield. It would be nice to bring Kimbrel back home to where he started. And the Alabama product would not mind that, either.

Odds: 8:1

4. Astros

If they have a weakness, this might be it. They could stamp themselves as favorites for 2019. The Astros, as a powerhouse not too far from Kimbrel’s Huntsville, Ala, hometown (same region anyway), could hold extra allure for him, too. The one issue is the priority is more likely Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman, and perhaps all those great starters.

Odds: 10:1

5. Rangers

They sat out this winter but have money and certainly have the need.

Odds: 13:1

6. Giants

The money spent on injured Mark Melancon appears not to be well spent, and while other parts of the bullpen seem strong (Hunter Strickland, Tony Watson), it’s possible Strickland will prove not to be the answer.

Odds: 17:1

7. Cardinals

He seems like a Cardinals-type player, and their two current closing options (Bud Norris and Greg Holland) are on one-year deals.

Odds: 20:1

8. Mets

After seeing him for years with the Braves, they have to be impressed. Jeurys Familia is a free agent.

Odds: 25:1

9. Padres

They made a big play for Kimbrel once, and they’ve surprised a few times before.

Odds: 27:1

10. Cubs

Brandon Morrow looks like the answer, and the Cubs don’t love the idea of a long deal for a reliever, anyway.

Odds: 30:1

11. Field

The Yankees and Dodgers already have star closers. Royals people know him from the Braves, but they don’t have that sort of loot.

Odds: 20:1

Jon Heyman is an MLB Insider for FanRag Sports, featuring breaking news, information and his Inside Baseball column, which appears on FanRagSports.com every Thursday. Heyman also has been an insider at MLB Network since the channel launched in 2009 and is a regular contributor to WFAN in New York, where he appears weekly on the Joe and Evan Show and previously appeared on the Mike and the Mad Dog Show. He also appears on WSCR in Chicago, WBZ-FM in Boston and the Petros and Money Show on Fox in Los Angeles. Heyman comes to FanRag Sports from CBSSports.com, where he worked for five years and wrote the popular Inside Baseball notes column. Before going to CBS, Heyman worked for five years at Sports Illustrated and SI.com, where he was a senior writer and started an Inside Baseball Column. Heyman worked for 16 years at Newsday in New York, where he was the Yankees beat writer, a baseball columnist and finally a general sports columnist. Heyman started his career at the Moline (Ill.) Daily Dispatch, then moved to the Los Angeles Copley Newspapers (Torrance Daily Breeze and Santa Monica Outlook) before going to Newsday. Heyman at one time also served as a national baseball writer for The Sporting News. Heyman is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. The Santa Fe, N.M. native grew up in Cedarhurst, N.Y., on Long Island.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Shawnuel

    May 11, 2018 at 1:49 pm

    Cubs also have C.J. Edwards in the fold and he could be a very good closer

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