The Boston Red Sox pretty much have put to bed any rumors that they could bring back closer Craig Kimbrel, but that didn’t stop Dave Dombrowski from praising the Sox’s former ninth-inning man.

Speaking with MLB Network Radio on Wednesday, Boston’s president of baseball operations noted that letting Kimbrel go was a “tough decision,” pointing out that he believes the 30-year-old is “a Hall of Fame closer.”

Kimbrel, of course, remains unsigned. Boston, meanwhile, is searching for a new closer from within the organization, and Dombrowski was sure to point out the many options the Sox have to take over the ninth, directly mentioning Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier and Tyler Thornburg.

Dombrowski went on to note the team has young arms coming up through the ranks and called it “an area of strength” for the organization.

The bullpen has received a great deal of attention since the Red Sox reported to spring training in Ft. Myers, Fla., with fans eager to find out who the team’s next closer might be, whether it be one arm or multiple that handle the last three outs. And it’s pretty safe to say that, much like last season, the use of the pen will be a storyline throughout 2019 as manager Alex Cora and Co. try to find a pattern that works.

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