Phillies Add Closer Corporation. They are said to agree with Craig Kimbrell in a one-year, $10 million agreement. Kimbrel is a SportsMeter customer.
Philadelphia would be Kimbrill’s seventh MLB team, heading into his 14th season. He returned to the NL East, where he was arguably the best sports closer of 2011-14 as a member of the Braves. Kimbrel remained excellent after being dealt to the Padres and later to the Red Sox. Dave Dombrowski ran Boston’s baseball operations while Kimbrel was there for three straight All-Star seasons between 2016 and 2018. They’re now reunited with Dombrowski leading the offense in Philly.
Since leaving the Red Sox, Kimbrel has had his share of ups and downs. He remained in free agency until June 2019 before he was given a three-year commitment from the Cubs. That deal seemed like a no-go after he posted a 6.00 ERA in 41 appearances through the end of the 2020 campaign. However, he looked as good as ever as a starter in the third season. The right-hander posted a microscopic 0.57 ERA through 31 2/3 innings pitched in the first half of 2021, securing his eighth All-Star selection in the process. The Cubs flipped him to the crosstown White Sox on a deadline trade that brought him back Nick Madrigal.
Kimbrel did not finish the season well, posting a 5.09 ERA for the Sox. Chicago exercised a $16 million option on his services for the 2022 season but marketed it most of last winter. In the days leading up to Opening Day, they sent him to the Dodgers in a one-for-one swap AJ Pollock. Kimbrel has spent his 34-year-old campaign in Los Angeles, putting up strong numbers overall, but showing some worrying signs along the stretch.
While his first half of his ERA was 4.35 walkers, he has struck out over a third of opponents in that time. The Dodgers relied on him as their closer early in the year, but he began to fall out of favor as the season progressed. Kimbrel’s strike rate in the second half was a modest 20.7%. His ERA was 3.10 thanks to a meager 0.227 batting average on balls in games against him. The Dodgers were clearly skeptical of Kimbrel’s ability to maintain this kind of batball fortune. They removed him from the ninth inning in September and scratched him from the roster entirely at the time of the playoffs.
It’s certainly not how Kimbrill or the team envisioned the end of the season, but his 2022 campaign hasn’t been a disaster. He posted a 3.75 ERA over 60 innings pitched overall. His strike rate of 27.7% and swing percentage of 12.1% were slightly better than average, and he averaged 95.8 mph on his fastball. He walked the batting with a high clip of 10.8% and gave up a fair amount of hard contact, but still showed quality stuff right off the bat. Although Kimbrel is not vintage or even at his production level for 2021, he has shown enough to believe he can still play hard.
Kimbrel has gone 22 of 27 on save attempts this year. He now totals 394 career saves, the most of any active player. Kimbrel should soon become the seventh pitcher in MLB history to reach the 400 mark, and he’ll have a path back into the ninth inning in Philadelphia. Players love Jose Alvarado And the Cerancho Dominguez They were previously the in-house favorites to close out the action, though they each manage to take on higher leverage responsibilities in the seventh or eighth inning.
It’s a relatively low-cost gamble for the Phils, matching the $10 million pilot they made Corey Nebel post offseason. They will have to take on a few million more in taxes, as they will likely cross the luxury tax threshold for the second season in a row. Luxury tax liabilities in Philadelphia come to nearly $251 million, according to a Roster Resource calculation. They’re subject to a 30% tax on every dollar spent between $233 million and $253 million, so signing Kimbrel comes with an additional $3 million fee. It also brings them within $2 million of their second CBT threshold at $253 million. That would come with a 42% tax hike, with higher penalties if it exceeds $273 million.
It’s not clear exactly where owner John Middleton wants to draw the line, though the Phils have little reason to spare much expense in the wake of a pennant win. I’ve already brought Philadelphia Tria Turner And the Taeguan Walker This winter, Kimbrel joins Matt will see them relief additions. The Phils are set for another battle with the Mets and Braves in the heavyweight NL East, and they’ll be hoping Kimbrel has plenty of opportunities to lock in wins at the bullpen’s back end.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
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