The top reliever on the free-agent market is gone. According to reports, closer Craig Kimbrel is signing with the Chicago Cubs, pending a physical. Kimbrel will join the Cubs after a successful World Series run with the Boston Red Sox in 2018. Ken Rosenthal shared the report on Twitter:
BREAKING: #Cubs in agreement with free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 6, 2019
Craig Kimbrel Signs with Chicago Cubs
Kimbrel has been one of the best relievers in all of baseball since he stepped on the field. He debuted with the Atlanta Braves during the 2010 season and posted a 0.44 ERA in 21 games. He would takeover the permanent closer’s role heading into 2011, capturing the NL Rookie of the Year that season after leading the NL with 46 saves.
He would go on to lead the NL in saves from 2011-14, averaging 46 saves and 109 strikeouts per season. Kimbrel led all of baseball with 50 saves in 2013. Unfortunately, Atlanta would under perform in 2014 and trade its star closer on the brink of the 2015 season.
Time with Boston
After a one-season layover with the San Diego Padres, Kimbrel was acquired by the Boston Red Sox to serve as the team’s closer. Despite a career-high 3.40 ERA during his first season with the team, he would settle in quite nicely. Kimbrel was an AL All-Star each season with the Red Sox, averaging 36 saves and 102 strikeouts while posting a 2.44 ERA.
Kimbrel did help Boston to the 2018 World Series, but his numbers were not what fans hoped for from the elite reliever. He allowed seven earned runs in 10.2 innings pitched throughout the 2018 postseason. Thankfully, he still recorded six saves, including one in the World Series, as the Red Sox rolled to a championship.
There’s no denying Kimbrel improves any bullpen he joins, and Chicago is no different. Kimbrel boasts a 14.7 strikeouts-per-nine innings while allowing 0.6 home runs per nine innings. He is the current active saves leader in MLB with 333 and has a career ERA of 1.91. Time will only tell if the contract will hold its value, but Kimbrel’s body of work is certainly impressive.
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