What exactly is Craig Kimbrel looking for right now?
Kimbrel turned down the Boston Red Sox’s qualifying offer at the onset of free agency this past offseason. Had the All-Star closer accepted the deal, it would have paid him $17.9 million for the 2019 campaign. Instead, Kimbrel sought a long-term contract on the open market, where he remained as of Wednesday afternoon, presumably because no team across Major League Baseball has been willing to meet his financial demands.
The market for Kimbrel figures to be more robust now that teams don’t need to relinquish draft pick compensation to sign the 31-year-old — a requirement prior to Sunday at midnight thanks to him rejecting Boston’s qualifying offer — but it sounds like potential suitors still will need to pay up for his services.
While it’s fair to assume Kimbrel will seek at least the pro-rated portion of $17.9 million even if he lowers his demands, in an effort to save face, executives told the New York Post’s Joel Sherman the six-time All-Star still is trying to score a multiyear contract in free agency.
In other words, don’t bank on Kimbrel cutting his losses just to get back on a major league mound and potentially strengthen his case for a more lucrative contract after this season. He entered this past offseason with lofty aspirations, and while his demands have dropped a bit in recent months, there’s little reason to believe he’s going to continue backtracking as we get deeper into the year.
Several teams have been linked to Kimbrel, who spent his past three seasons with the Red Sox after five seasons with the Atlanta Braves and one season with the San Diego Padres. One executive told Sherman the Minnesota Twins have made Kimbrel a priority, while The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday, citing sources, that the Chicago Cubs are pushing hard for the right-hander.
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