After an offseason bereft of rumors about Craig Kimbrel – much less connecting him to the Chicago Cubs, specifically – and then an in-season flurry of hopes that I wouldn’t properly characterize as “rumors,” one of the most dominant closers in baseball history is finally joining a big league team.
That team, of course, is the Cubs, who got into the mix only after Kimbrel’s market lingered well into the season, and their own financial situation changed upon the extended absence of Ben Zobrist. It was an awkward blending of timelines, but that wouldn’t have been a reason to avoid taking advantage of what could prove to be not only a perfect fit for the Cubs’ bullpen but also a tremendous bargain. Hopefully Zobrist returns later this year, and all can be as well as possible.
As for Kimbrel, the Cubs took his ramp up very cautiously, as evidenced by the fact that he will be arriving a day after his fellow extended free agent Dallas Keuchel made his SECOND start (against the Cubs) – and he’s a starting pitcher who returned much faster than Kimbrel, a reliever. Hopefully that process will have proved worthwhile, as the adjustment to joining a team in June after a long, long layoff can be a challenging one.
There weren’t really any signs from his Iowa stint that indicates Kimbrel won’t be ready, but we’ll all have to be a little extra chill if the velocity takes a hot minute to come back fully, or if a performance goes sideways in the early going.
In a dream world, Kimbrel will get to make his debut at Wrigley Field this afternoon, entering the 9th with a comfortable three-run lead, and proceed to mow down the Braves in order. I’d watch that. What a kick in the pants that would be for the Cubs, right?
The team is already excited to get Kimbrel in the house: