As needy as the Cubs’ bullpen looks, you could certainly make the argument that the Brewers – having lost Corey Knebel for the year, and with Jeremy Jeffress still working his way back – need ace closer Craig Kimbrel as much as the Cubs.
Not that the Cubs are actually in the market, financially speaking, for a significant expenditure, mind you. And the same story might be true for the Brewers, who have at least actually engaged the still-available Kimbrel in talks:
The Brewers have suffered some injuries in their bullpen but it doesn't look like they can afford help in the form of Craig Kimbrel. https://t.co/So239Q2F1I
— JSOnline – Brewers (@js_brewers) March 31, 2019
Per Tom Haudricourt, the Brewers “don’t have another $18 million in this year’s budget to do a one-year deal with Kimbrel or Keuchel. They probably don’t have even half that figure at the ready for an addition at this stage.”
It’s not even clear to Haudricourt that Kimbrel would take that kind of a one-year deal right now anyway: “As one of the most accomplished closers in the game today, Kimbrel reportedly was seeking a six-year, $100 million deal at the outset of the offseason, which would have been the biggest payday ever for a relief pitcher …. So, unless Kimbrel changes his mind and is willing to take something the Brewers can afford, which probably would have to be back-loaded in some way, this is the group they will take into battle.”
We’ve talked about Kimbrel a lot around here, and at a record payday, even I’ll admit I don’t think he’s the right move for the Cubs. But if he had to settle for a one-year deal? Pro-rated to account for the time he’ll miss? Even at the expense of a lost second-round draft pick and some IFA money? Yes, the Cubs should strongly considering trying to find a way to make that happen.
As should the Brewers, for what that’s worth.
I understand that these teams have budgets, and I also understand that some measure of fiscal caution is fair – even for a sports team – in the long term. But when it comes to one-year deals at a needy spot in a competitive window? I tend to skew a little more meatbally in saying you find some money in the dang couch cushions, knowing that there will come non-competitive years in the future when you’re spending a whole lot less. We all know that those days will come at some point, and it’s not as if playing things tight right now is going to help in the future. The only season available to win right now is this one, and if you can meaningfully improve the odds of winning in this year at the expense of only a chunk of dollars you might not get back*? You take that opportunity.
*(And you might get some of it back with a deeper postseason run! Just sayin’!)
Again, I say that to both the Cubs AND the Brewers. And probably the Braves, too, among other teams.
In fact, now that I’ve typed it all, I am reminded that it takes two to tango, and maybe Kimbrel is flat-out refusing a short-term deal at this point, and teams are simply exercising appropriate caution about his trend line. Heck, he might just decide to wait to sign until the second half of July when (1) he’s no longer attached to draft pick compensation, and (2) the contenders have sorted themselves out a bit more and the needs may have increased.