It’s hard to avoid the issue today when speaking to the media, so I appreciate Cubs President Theo Epstein at least throwing a non-specific bone on the rampant Craig Kimbrel rumors.
Theo on Kimbrel: As said before, we’ll be aggressive this year in the pen. Always trying to get better out there. Been open that at some point we’ll get help from outside the organization. The guy that is out there, we’ll certainly do our due diligence and see if it makes sense
— Kelly Crull (@Kelly_Crull) June 5, 2019
I could make jokes here (Narrator: “It does make sense.”), but I want to point out that with a flurry of rumors today, if there were no truth to them whatsoever, or if Epstein felt it was extremely unlikely that the Cubs could land Kimbrel on the kind of deal they can afford, he likely would’ve done a little more expectation management. We’ve seen it before, and after seven and a half years at the wheel, you get a little bit of a sense for what’s true in the reporting, and what’s not, when Epstein speaks about it.
In this case, it does seem likely that the Cubs are involved on Kimbrel. Are they “pushing hard,” as Ken Rosenthal reported? Are they the “favorites,” as Jon Morosi surmised? Well, there’s a lot of play in those words. I tend to think that, combined with Epstein’s limited comments, the reports should be read to indicate the Cubs are at least serious in their interest.
And why shouldn’t they be? The need for a closer is crystal clear, and Kimbrel – though at risk for decline and rust – could be one of the best, and he’s available right now for only money.
Note, by the way, that other reporters’ takeaway from the Kimbrel-adjacent comments were more general:
Theo met with media….
1. Wouldn’t address Kimbrel specifically, but reiterated that FO will be “aggressive” in search for bullpen help.
2. Morrow up to 75-90 feet in flat-ground throwing.
3. Has been in touch with Zobrist, but no update there yet. Respecting family situation.
— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) June 5, 2019
Sort of the same thing, though. Kimbrel is a free agent, not a trade target, so Epstein is free to be a little more specific if he wanted to (like, if he wanted to poo-poo the idea that the Cubs were seriously involved, for example). The Cubs will be aggressive, sure. In both trades … and free agency.