At last! Finally! A report indicating that the Cubs are doing the very thing that seemed so obvious to so many: they are in on free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 1, 2019
As Ken Rosenthal reports, the Cubs are interested in Kimbrel and “doing background work” on the free agent closer, who figures to sign soon after the draft begins on Monday (at that point, he no longer costs draft pick compensation).
The awkward bit there is something we’ve discussed before, even as it’s something the Cubs are understandably loath to address themselves: with Ben Zobrist out on the restricted list while attending to a personal matter, the Cubs may well be saving a lot of money in salary that could allow them to more aggressively pursue a free agent like Kimbrel. The hard-throwing righty reportedly still wants a multi-year deal, which should not be an issue for a Cubs club that will have a lot of money coming off the books after this season, should have more resources available thanks to the TV deal, and will have plenty of need in the bullpen going forward.
Kimbrel, 31, is possibly on a downward slide in recent years, and there’s no guarantee that he won’t suffer from his time off this year. But it will be hard to find a better bet in the trade market this year, and Kimbrel can be had for only money. For a back-end-bullpen-needy team like the Cubs, his availability right now is something of a dream scenario, and I’m very relieved to see confirmed that yes, they are exploring this.
Much more on Kimbrel in our discussion from earlier this week:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) May 29, 2019