Craig Kimbrel is one of the game’s best closers, but it’s for that reason he may not be with the Boston Red Sox next season.
The hard-throwing right-hander earned 42 saves this season and is set to make a pretty decent haul in free agency this offseason. The Red Sox have quite a few guys to consider re-signing in addition to Kimbrel, meaning they may not be in a place to get into a bidding war for the 30-year-old’s services if they are trying to make other deals happen and stay under the luxury tax.
So hypothetically, say Kimbrel were to depart. There are plenty of other late-inning arms on the market, including Andrew Miller and Zach Britton. But there also are some internal options as well. During president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski’s end of the season press conference Thursday, he cited Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes as potential options.
“We do think that we do have a situation where internally we have a couple candidates to do that. (Matt) Barnes and (Ryan) Brasier are the top candidates,” Dombrowski said, via WEEI.com. “They’re not Craig Kimbrel at this point in their careers. But I don’t think we go into the closer by committee approach. So if it wasn’t Craig it’d be either them or we’d have to see what other alternatives existed outside the organization.”
Brasier is an interesting option. He was pitching in Japan in 2017 but has been a closer many times in his career, including in Triple-A Pawtucket this past season before getting called up to the big leagues.
Barnes has emerged as a solid late-inning option, but has struggled with issuing walks in the past. He has tremendous stuff and could be a good fit in that role, but like Dombrowski said, he and Brasier likely aren’t going to be at Kimbrel’s level right out of the chute.
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