I do not blame anyone – myself included – for freaking just a touch last night when word broke that the Brewers were talking to free agent closer Craig Kimbrel. It would pretty much be exactly what the Brewers did with Yasmani Grandal – snag a qualified free agent on a cheap one-year deal because of a deflated market – and it would make all the sense in the world that the Brewers would be happy to do it again.
… even though EVERY contender should feel the same way, including and especially, the Cubs. If Kimbrel were coming on a ONE-year deal? You eat that dang cost and make it happen. But whatever. I’m fine. It’s fine. I’m fine.
Also, it doesn’t seem like Kimbrel to the Brewers is a lock just yet, so that’s good:
— Tom (@Haudricourt) March 20, 2019
Per Tom Haudricourt’s report, a deal with Kimbrel is “not close,” and the conversations were merely “exploratory.” That’s probably all good and fair, but I reckon that’s how the Grandal thing happened. Still Haudricourt describes the Brewers’ record payroll ($125 million) as “stretched.”
Keep in mind, the Brewers have a closer that is set to start the season on the shelf with shoulder weakness, so they have some incentive here to downplay the ability to reel in Kimbrel.
We’ll see. Kimbrel is either going to land somewhere very soon on a surprise deal, or he might just sit out until the second half, when he’s uncoupled from the qualifying offer, and also when a contender might be all the more itchy to meet his demands.
If he has to settle for a one-year deal right now, though, I just can’t understand why more teams wouldn’t find a way. He could add to literally any team’s present bullpen, and the risk is extremely limited, since he’s off the books after this season anyway. The draft pick compensation? Under the new CBA, it’s not nearly as onerous as it once was. It’s a consideration, sure, but for teams under the luxury tax (as the Cubs were in 2018), the penalty is not steep enough that you’d pass up an opportunity for a bargain closer like Kimbrel on a one-year deal.
UPDATE: You knew this was coming just a few minutes after having the audacity to publish this post:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 20, 2019