The extended wait for finding out where the league’s best closer would go has come to an end. The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal has reported that Craig Kimbrel has agreed to a multi-year deal with the Chicago Cubs:
Kimbrel, a seven-time All-Star, finally has his new home, seven months after he declined the Red Sox’s $17.9 million qualifying offer. During the offseason, it was reported that he was demanding a 6 year, $100 million deal, which would have surpassed Kenley Jansen for the biggest free agent contract for a reliever. While multiple teams — including the Twins, Brewers, Braves, and Red Sox— were connected, a real market never formed for Kimbrel. Teams elected to wait until after the draft, when draft compensation tied to Kimbrel and Keuchel, to sign the two pitchers. Over the last few days, the Cubs were reported to be in high pursuit of Kimbrel with injuries to their bullpen, and they get their man only a few days later.
There is no question that Craig Kimbrel is rising up the greatest closer of all-time list. While he was not his usual dominant self in 2018 (his 3.13 FIP is the highest in his career), he was still one of the elite closers in the game. But a brutal second half (4.57 ERA, 3.58 FIP) and an awful postseason (5.91 ERA, 6.54 FIP) leaves some cause for concern. That said, even a less than dominant Kimbrel greatly improves a Cubs bullpen that currently ranks 14th in FIP and 18th in fWAR. Kimbrel will be a very important piece for the Cubs as they look to compete for their second World Series title in four years.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Jeff Passan has the full contract details:
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