Thoughts on Re-Acquiring Craig Kimbrel, Different Types of Changeups, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Thoughts on Re-Acquiring Craig Kimbrel, Different Types of Changeups, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

We have our first significant snow of the year, which means I have to go clean off my car. I shouldn’t complain, because we made it all the way to January 17.

•   A storyline I’ve kind of forgotten about during the lockout, mostly because it probably no longer directly implicates the Cubs, is what the White Sox are going to do with Craig Kimbrel (h/t to MLBTR for raising the question). Having already picked up his $16 million option, and having already committed themselves to Liam Hendriks being *THE* closer, it remains impossible for me to see Kimbrel still being with the team come April. But with a transaction window before Spring Training that might be only a week, and with a lot of good relievers still on the market against whom the White Sox would be competing (Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera, and a host of bounce-back former-closer types), it might be really dodgy for the White Sox to get a decent deal. But, again, it’s not as if they could actually go into the season with him as a setup man at this point.

•   Now I’ll bring it back to the Cubs: If the White Sox wind up having to give Kimbrel away because they goofed on picking up the option and simply don’t want to pay his salary, then hey, the Cubs will take him back! I only kinda kid, because I can’t see that happening, but I mean … short-term, high-AAV, at a spot where the Cubs could gladly incorporate him? In a lot of ways, Kimbrel seems like the perfect kind of addition for this Cubs team. When he was healthy, he was still excellent. He’s a great teammate. He was clearly comfortable with the Cubs. The Cubs have theoretical closing options, but not an obvious closer. So on and so forth.

•   The only caveat that I could see is that part of the reason you want these short-term guys if you’re the Cubs is that you know you might wind up wanting to trade them in July. And with Kimbrel … is there any part of you, as an organization, that would feel bad about acquiring him only to trade him again, after how badly things went for him last year post-trade? I know we want our sports organizations to be ruthless and calculating and max everything out, but I think there’s probably value in being good humans, too. I’m not saying that means you DON’T acquire Kimbrel and then maybe re-trade him (maybe he’s fine with it!). I’m just saying it’s the only part of this that makes me flinch for just a second. Jed Hoyer (as shared by Kris Bryant) did indicate last year that the Cubs did think about the human part a bit when they were making their trades in 2021. Long-term, big-picture, I do think that stuff matters when you’re building an organization.

•   Great read at FanGraphs on Ian Anderson’s unique changeup, and (maybe) why it gets such devastating results despite having pretty meh pitch characteristics. The short version is that, unlike most changeups, Anderson throws his much harder, with more spin, and with much less movement – that would normally be bad! – but it potentially looks SO much like his fastball that it still gets great results. In other words, the theory is that if the changeup tunnels with the fastball for much longer, it can still be as effective as a changeup with more movement and more velocity difference (which, naturally, wouldn’t tunnel quite as long). I’m not sure to what extent something like this is replicable, because it’s not really something you’d try (hey, throw your changeup harder!), but maybe if you’ve got a guy who doesn’t have a great changeup anyway, and you just want to see what happens if he tries not to get as much separation from the fastball?

•   Gatorade, Rockstar, mixers, and more are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

•   Anniversary this weekend:

•   Celebrating and remembering the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.:

•   Classic Wiffle Ball commercial, anyone:

•   Good timing on this interview:

•   Very sad news in the Chicago sports radio world:

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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.