Could Boston Reunite with Their Former Closer?
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Several former Red Sox players are currently free agents, raising the possibility of a Boston reunion. One player in particular stands out – their former closer, Craig Kimbrel.
Since leaving Boston after their 2018 World Series win, Kimbrel has played for four different teams. After stints with the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the 35-year-old had a solid season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2023, posting a 3.26 ERA. Unfortunately, the Phillies fell just one game short of a second-straight National League pennant.
Kimbrel is widely regarded as one of the most dominant closers in the game. However, he does have some flaws and often finds himself working in and out of jams. So, does it make sense for the Red Sox to pursue the former champion?
The Case For Kimbrel
During his time with the Phillies in 2023, Kimbrel proved to be a reliable asset in their bullpen. He went 8-6 with a 3.26 ERA in 69 innings, striking out an impressive 12.3 batters per nine innings. Even when he struggles, Kimbrel has a knack for escaping jams and racking up strikeouts as he ages.
Despite being in his mid-30s, Kimbrel’s electric stuff still plays at a high level. His fastball-curveball combination continues to overpower hitters. Adding Kimbrel to a late-game rotation with Josh Winckowski, John Schreiber, Chris Martin, and Kenley Jansen would help keep the talented group of relievers fresh more consistently.
Kimbrel currently ranks No. 8 all-time with 417 saves, just behind the current Red Sox closer, Jansen. Bringing back an all-time great back-end reliever would undoubtedly add intrigue to the Red Sox bullpen.
The Case Against Kimbrel
However, Kimbrel’s postseason performance raises some concerns. He struggled in key games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, resulting in losses and blown saves. Throughout his career, Kimbrel has a 4.50 ERA in the postseason and walks an average of six batters per nine innings. For a team aiming to return to October, Kimbrel’s postseason resume requires a closer look.
Another factor to consider is Kimbrel’s age, although Chris Martin proved to be Boston’s best reliever last year at the age of 37.
Furthermore, Kimbrel’s inconsistent strike throwing may not align with the bullpen’s value of consistent strikes. Since 2017, he has not had a season with fewer than three walks per nine innings.
While the walks are cause for concern, adding a strikeout specialist like Kimbrel to keep other key relievers fresh is an intriguing possibility. A short-term, affordable deal with Kimbrel could prove beneficial for the Red Sox.
In conclusion, the Red Sox have the opportunity to bring back their former closer, Craig Kimbrel. While there are valid arguments both for and against this reunion, a short-term deal could be a worthwhile gamble for the team.
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Featured image via Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports ImagesThe article discusses the possibility of the Boston Red Sox bringing back their former closer, Craig Kimbrel, who is currently a free agent. Kimbrel has played for four teams since leaving Boston in 2018, but he had a solid season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2023. The article presents both the case for and against signing Kimbrel. On one hand, Kimbrel is still a dominant closer with the ability to rack up strikeouts. Adding him to the bullpen rotation could help keep the group of talented relievers fresh. On the other hand, Kimbrel has struggled in the postseason and has a high walk rate. The article concludes that while the bullpen is not a major need for the Red Sox, a short-term, cheap deal with Kimbrel could be beneficial.