Because of the potential impact on the NL Central and/or other National League playoff races, I do still want to keep tabs on Craig Kimbrel’s yes-still-ongoing free agency, but I also don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up that the Cubs actually will make a surprise late strike.
Although, on a short-term deal, we think the Cubs *should* be more aggressive, there is absolutely no indication whatsoever that they have ever even remotely considered him as an option for their bullpen. Not back in November, not throughout the offseason, and not today. We have just never, ever gotten that sense. Instead, the indication has been a uniform “there is no more money.” I am not sitting here pining for Kimbrel.
Anyway, Ken Rosenthal and Dennis Lin update the latest on Kimbrel (among other things) here:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 31, 2019
Of note in there, the Brewers – per The Athletic – have checked in on Dallas Keuchel, but “remain more interested” in Kimbrel. It’s not hard to see the obvious fit there, but this weekend, the Brewers were spreading the message that they can’t even afford Kimbrel on a cheap one-year deal, let alone the significant multi-year pact he may still be seeking. I tend to think the Brewers would still gladly take Kimbrel on a cheap one-year deal – they’d find a way, especially with their bullpen injuries – but they aren’t going to risk losing any leverage right now.
The Athletic notes the Mets and Rays also have interest in Kimbrel, with the Phillies, Nationals, and Braves also having an obvious bullpen need. But at this point, signing Kimbrel might get you only five months in 2019:
Free agents Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel may be working out and pitching regularly, but without having the benefit of spring training, several teams who have checked in don’t believe they will be ready to pitch in #MLB games before May.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) April 1, 2019
Moreover, there’s always a risk in these super late signings that a pitcher just doesn’t quite get on rhythm. I also wonder if, at this point, Kimbrel might just try to leverage the midseason trade market to sign (after being uncoupled from draft pick compensation, too) in July for more than he’s being offered right now.