Although Kris Bryant’s status is getting more of the headlines right now, I don’t think many would dispute that it’s actually super-elite closer Craig Kimbrel who will probably be the more heavily sought-after player on the trade market in the coming 10 days.
Jeff Passan ranked the two that way in trade cost, with Kimbrel just ahead of Bryant, and behind only 1.5-year guys Byron Buxton, Joey Gallo, and Jose Berrios. I am obliged to note that Kimbrel is effectively a 1.5-year guy, too, with a club option that is valuable:
I am growing frustrated by volume of folks who don’t see that Kimbrel’s $16M team option for ’22 is a *value add* to contract. Firstly, Cubs could kick in $ to cover buyout ($1 or $2M) if that were concern. Secondly, a super elite closer on a 1-year, $16M deal? THAT’S QUITE GOOD.
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) July 19, 2021
Not that I’m saying I would necessarily rank Kimbrel, in trade cost, ahead of that trio. Just noting that Kimbrel is not a pure rental, like Bryant is.
Meanwhile, although virtually every contender should be in on Kimbrel, there’s one team that has suddenly picked up a ton of buzz over the past few days: the Philadelphia Phillies. The combination of their run toward the Mets and the deep and obvious needs in their bullpen have led to increasing speculation about the Phillies, under Dave Dombrowski, as a prime Kimbrel suitor. Even an anonymous GM out there is saying Kimbrel might wind up on the Phillies.
… but could the Phillies actually land Kimbrel? We know that the Cubs can get a “ton” for Kimbrel in trade, and we also know that Dombrowski does not want to trade either of his top two prospects, righty Mick Abel and shortstop Bryson Stott, the only two who are in range of top 100 type consideration. NBC Philly wonders if former top prospects Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard – remember them! – could instead be on the table, but I’d wonder right back if that’s the direction the Cubs would want to go. Each of Howard and Bohm now have some big league exposure, and each has some very ugly performances to show for it. We know that development sometimes happens like that, and these were two very, very well-regarded prospects. Maybe the Cubs want to take a chance on getting them over the hump as part of a nearer-term competition timeline? I wouldn’t rule it out, but I also wouldn’t necessarily bet on it.
From there, the Phillies have a bottom tier farm system, where, sure, you’re gonna be able to pluck some interesting prospects, but not the level you’d expect to be getting in a Kimbrel deal. In other words, the Cubs would have to really like Bohm and/or Howard for the Phillies to have a realistic shot in a Kimbrel trade, given how widespread the interest is going to be.