Dave Dombrowski: Craig Kimbrel Trade A ‘Big Step’ For Red Sox’s Bullpen

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The opportunity simply was too good for the Boston Red Sox to pass up.

The Red Sox acquired closer Craig Kimbrel from the San Diego Padres on Friday in exchange for minor leaguers Manuel Margot, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen and Carlos Asuaje. The move comes at a price — Boston surrendered four of its top 25 prospects, according to SoxProspects.com — but Kimbrel is a four-time All-Star who’s been lights out since entering the majors in 2010.

“I think first and foremost what was extremely important was the ability, because when we look at Craig, we look at him as a premium closer,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Friday during a conference call. “And there are various names out there, but (he’s) one of the best (closers) in the game of baseball.”

The Red Sox already had an effective closer in Koji Uehara, but he’ll turn 41 before Opening Day and is coming off a season cut short by right wrist surgery. The acquisition of Kimbrel, who will be handed the keys to the ninth inning, gives Boston much more firepower at the back end of its bullpen.

“I think this is enough of a major move that we need to make (for the bullpen) because we just slide Koji into the eighth (inning) and (Junichi) Tazawa into the seventh. That’s significant,” Dombrowski said. “I can’t say that we won’t do some tweaking as time goes on. I’m not really sure about that. But I think with the major moves, this is a big step for us and probably the major step that we look to make at this point.”

Dombrowski acknowledged that the Red Sox surrendered good, young talent to land Kimbrel, whose 224 saves since the beginning of his first full season in 2011 are more than any reliever in Major League Baseball. It’s all part of giving up quality to get quality, and the allure of adding a dominant power arm without taking away from the major league roster trumped any lingering concern.

“He’s perfectly healthy, he feels great and he’s at the prime of his career, he’s 27,” Dombrowski said of Kimbrel. “When we were more or less (looking at) scouting reports, which were late in the year in September, he was still throwing 97 to 99 (mph) at that time with a good breaking ball. So he’s healthy. He’s been consistent throughout his career. He’s at the prime time. So we look for him to be our guy back there for years to come.”

Kimbrel is under contract for the next two seasons at $24 million. The Red Sox also own a $13 million club option for 2018 that could be a no-brainer if the right-hander continues his dominance.

Thumbnail photo via Jim Cowsert/USA TODAY Sports Images

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