How Craig Kimbrel’s Initial Contract ‘Ask’ Compares To Historic Closer Contracts

Craig Kimbrel is one of the greatest closers in baseball history, and he reportedly wants to be paid like it.

The free agent pitcher is a free agent this winter, and while we still don’t know what he seeks in terms of dollars, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Friday that the flame-throwing right-hander is asking for a six-year contract.

Of course, just because Kimbrel is asking for a six-year deal doesn’t mean he’ll actually get it. It’s most likely just a negotiation tactic from which he’ll likely have to come down at least a year, perhaps in exchange for more money per season. We don’t know much else, because there’s not much in the way of reported offers for the 30-year-old yet.

But if Kimbrel actually were to land a six-year pact, it would be an unprecedented deal for a closer. As it stands, no closer has a contract for more than five years.

Here are the biggest closer contracts right now:

Aroldis Chapman (Yankees): five years, $86 million
Kenley Jansen (Dodgers): five years, $80 million
Mark Melancon (Giants): four years, $62 million
Wade Davis (Rockies): three years (with vesting option), $52 million

(It’s also worth noting Sean Doolittle signed a five-year contract with the Oakland Athletics worth $10.5 million before being traded to the Washington Nationals.)

The Red Sox did extend a qualifying offer to Kimbrel (one year, $17.9 million) that the closer rejected. That’s not surprising, as Kimbrel is taking this chance to cash in on the biggest contract of his career.

Kimbrel made $13 million last season, so we can only imagine he’s looking for a higher annual value for this contract. So maybe $15 million per season? Considering every high-end player wants to reset the market for his position, a six-year, $90 million contract for Kimbrel would set a new standard for closers, as it would be the longest and richest deal ever handed to a player at that position.

That’s all speculation, though. Maybe Kimbrel is aiming even higher. Maybe he wants $100 million; who among us doesn’t want $100 million? And perhaps he’d be willing to “settle” for fewer years and more money per season.

One thing is clear: Anyone wanting to sign the closer of the defending World Series champion is going to have to pony up in historic fashion to lock him down.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images

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