The White Sox Will Reportedly Pick Up Craig Kimbrel's Option

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The White Sox Will Reportedly Pick Up Craig Kimbrel’s Option

Chicago Cubs

In case there had developed any question about whether Craig Kimbrel was still worth a one-year, $16 million deal even after his rough couple months with the White Sox, let there be no question.

The White Sox are picking up his option:

Kimbrel, who was one of the best relievers in baseball from the second week of August in 2020 until he was traded to the White Sox at the deadline, is probably still a great closer. But if he sticks with the White Sox, we won’t get to see it, since Tony La Russa (who is coming back) is content with Liam Hendriks in that role. If Kimbrel is asked to stay in a setup role all season in 2022, I just don’t know how that’s going to go. Some guys are cut out to be closers, and Kimbrel is a possible Hall of Fame closer.

To that end, I think the White Sox will try VERY HARD to trade Kimbrel this offseason. They will want to deploy that $16 million elsewhere anyway, and they know enough by now to know that Kimbrel is a big risk if he’s asked to set up.

Indeed, I would bet the White Sox have been trying very hard to trade Kimbrel this weekend before having to commit to the option. But if there are no takers yet, the White Sox will roll the dice on the assumption that at some point this offseason they can move him for a modest return. On a one-year deal, I still think there’s value there. It’s also possible that the White Sox try to eat some of the salary to improve the return, and if they didn’t exercise the option this weekend, they’d never even get that chance.

As for the Cubs, no, I don’t realistically see the White Sox trading him back. Not only would that be all kinds of embarrassing, but I don’t know that the Cubs would be interested in giving up prospect capital to get one year of Kimbrel at $16 million. They might want him at that price tag WITHOUT having to trade for him, but it doesn’t look like that is going to be possible.

Hopefully Kimbrel is traded somewhere he can close, and preferably outside of the NL Central.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.