These Chicago Cubs are in the MLB Close of trading. Yes, after 12 losses in 13 games it was reported on Friday that the team’s management had decided to sell parts to rebuild / rebuild and compete again over the next few years.
ICYMI: Jed Hoyer, the head of the Cubs baseball division, signaled loudly yesterday that his team was ready to move players. No sources required.
– Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 9, 2021
While Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, and Anthony Rizzo are all attractive pieces, the potentially biggest target will be as of the deadline Craig Kimbrel. The best end to his era, Kimbrel has found the magic again this season after struggling for the past two years. On Friday he was 1-2 with a .57 ERA, .66 WHIP, and 20 saves in 22 chances. He wouldn’t be on loan either, as the team acquiring him would hold a $ 16 million option for the next season.
Kimbrel is going to be a hot commodity that could transform any bullpen. Here’s a look at five teams who could use it as the trading deadline approaches.
The Fathers currently sit third in the National League West and have heavily taxed their bullpen this year. Due to injury and overuse, they will likely need to add two relief arms before the deadline. Keone Kela and Dan Altavilla were both recently operated on by Tommy John, while Michel Baez, Jose Castillo and Adrian Morejon all underwent the procedure earlier this year.
Kimbrel is going to be the best bullpen arm available and the Padres still have a top 10 farming system to handle. Closer Mark Melancon leads the majors on saves with 26 out of 30 chances, but Kimbrel is better. Putting Melancon in a setup role would maximize its value if the brothers could get their earlier ones back. Kimbrel appeared to be enjoying his one season in San Diego in 2015, so seeing them again makes sense.
This would be another reunion for Kimbrel as he would be returning to Boston where he played three seasons and the Red Sox win the 2018 World Series. The Sox currently have the sixth best bullpen ERA in MLBbut if they want to make a real push to win the American League, they need more depth in the auxiliary corps.
Matt Barnes has done really well this season, with 19 saves in 23 ways, a 2.68 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. But he’s not Kimbrel. It might cost the Red Sox a little more than they are willing to part with to land their ex-master, but they must consider the move as they are tied for the best record in the AL and their top competition are also going to follow Kimbrel (more on that later).
The A’s are one of two teams that are claimed to be the most likely target for Kimbrel, and the fit makes sense. Oakland’s bullpen ranks 14th in the bullpen ERA (4.07) and they have no real approximation thanks to Trevor Rosenthal’s shoulder and hip injuries that will cost him the season.
Lou Trivino was solid in the narrower role with 13 saves in 15 ways, but Kimbrel would give the team a real lockdown presence in the back of the bullpen. He could change the team’s fate as the AL West chase progresses. The A’s are currently 4.5 games behind the Astros, despite holding the last wildcard place.
The Astros are one of the best teams in baseball and are continuing to move up after the season 7-10 opens. They are associated with the Red Sox for the best record in the AL (54-34) and possess the best offensive in baseball. But the Auxiliary Corps needs some major fixes as the Astros currently occupy 15th place in the Bullpen ERA (4.09).
Closer Ryan Pressly is an all-star and has made good final games. He stands 4-1 with a 1.46 ERA, a 0.78 WHIP, and 16 saves in 17 chances. But Kimbrel is a more reliable presence who has held that role before, including completing a World Series. Landing Kimbrel and putting Pressly in a setup role would bolster the entire Bullpen and make the Astros a lot more dangerous. That Houston could prevent the other team with the top record in the AL (Boston) from getting Kimbrel would be the icing on the cake.
Speaking of fighting bullpens, those Braves are urgently looking for help in this area. This would be another reunion and one that would fill a great need. Atlanta ranks 21st in Bullpen ERA (4.64) and Will Smith was shaky in the narrower role. He’s 3-5 with 3.53 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 17 saves in 19 chances. These numbers aren’t terrible, but they also don’t inspire confidence.
Could Kimbrel go back to the place where it all started in Atlanta? Certainly. The Alabama native thrived in Atlanta and became one of the game’s top throwers – let alone reliver – during his five seasons in the ATL. The Braves have a decent farming system to trade with and adding Kimbrel would give them a big boost in the battle for the fourth consecutive NL East title.