At the beginning of this past offseason, no one would have thought that Craig Kimbrel was going to be unemployed into the month of June. While the attached qualifying offer was expected to diminish his market a bit, Kimbrel has been one of the pre-eminent closers of the past decade and the market for his services was expected to be busy.
However, that is not how it turned out. Kimbrel, along with fellow free agent Dallas Keuchel, did not like the offers they received during the offseason and both decided to wait until after the recent MLB Draft so that the penalties regarding signing players who received qualifying offers were no longer attached and they could feasibly get stronger offers.
It did not take longer for Kimbrel to find an offer he liked.
BREAKING: #Cubs in agreement with free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel, pending physical, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 6, 2019
The Cubs find themselves in the thick of a tough NL Central where they find themselves in a virtual tie with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place with a middling bullpen who as a group have posted a 4.02 ERA and 4.41 FIP in 197 innings this season.
The financial terms of Kimbrel’s deal just came out and they appear to be fairly reasonable at three years and close to $45 million.
Kimbrel deal with #Cubs will be three years and close to $45M, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 6, 2019
While Kimbrel’s struggles in the playoffs with the Red Sox last year are well chronicled, Kimbrel has still been arguably the most dominant closer in recent memory. In 542 career appearances in his career, Kimbrel has posted a 1.91 ERA and 1.96 FIP with a career strikeout rate of 14.67 K/9.