Are you a Major League Baseball owner with $70-80 million to spare? Well, step right up and you could get yourself the greatest closer in the history of the sport.
At least that’s the sales pitch for Dave Meter, agent for free agent All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel as the right-hander hits the market.
The best of all time? Well then.
Kimbrel, at times in his career, has been downright unhittable. When he’s at his best, like he was for the Boston Red Sox in 2017, he is an all-time legend at the position. During that season, he posted a ridiculous 319 ERA+ to go along with a microscopic 1.42 FIP while striking out an absurd 126 batters in just 69 innings.
It was one of the best relief seasons in the history of the sport, and Kimbrel likely will be able to stake a claim for the best of all time when it’s all said and done. But it’s still a pretty strong claim, especially when the last thing we saw of Kimbrel wasn’t pretty.
Yes, the flame-thrower technically converted all six of his save opportunities during the 2018 playoffs. He also did so, however, while allowing seven runs in just 10 2/3 innings, allowing 19 of the 50 batters he faced to reach base. That’s not great.
It’s also probably a little misguided to tout saves in general given the current analytically driven climate of baseball. Saves don’t matter as much as they used to, with many arguing it’s an antiquated stat.
Be that as it may, teams desperate to find back-end bullpen help will almost certainly pony up the big money to sign Kimbrel. MLB trade rumors project him to land a four-year, $70 million contract, and the 30-year-old Kimbrel still should have some dominant seasons left in him.
But to think you’re getting the best to ever do it might be slightly off.
Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images