Craig Kimbrel is going to play somewhere this season, right?
Well, maybe, and maybe not. But either way, it might take a unique situation for the former Boston Red Sox closer to find a new home.
Enter: The Chicago Cubs.
The North Siders are “showing interest” in Kimbrel, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Saturday, citing sources. The 31-year-old right-hander is seeking a multi-year deal in the $32 million-to-$52 million range.
The Cubs’ interest comes as a surprise, as they spent just $8.75 million in free agency during the summer and reportedly were intent on not paying a significant luxury tax. But the ongoing absence of utilityman Ben Zobrist, who is on the restricted list while going through a divorce, might play in the Cubs’ favor.
Check out this note from Rosenthal:
“Players generally are not paid while they are on the restricted list, and their teams receive credit for their savings in the calculation of their luxury-tax payrolls. Zobrist, earning $12 million in the final season of a four-year, $56 million contract, went on the restricted list on May 8. If he remains inactive all season — ‘I have to think that way, absolutely,’ manager Joe Maddon told the Chicago-Sun Times this week — the Cubs potentially would save more than $9 million.”
Of course, this hardly is the first team Kimbrel has been connected to. And considering the likely future Hall of Famer reportedly is willing to sit out the entire season if he doesn’t get a contract to his liking, all reports should be taken with a grain of salt.
That said, bullpen depth and talent typically become more desirable as seasons go deeper (looking at you, Red Sox), so it’s tough to imagine some team not throwing money at Kimbrel before September.