Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox Free Agency Series: Craig Kimbrel

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Red Sox have a number of important decisions to make in the coming weeks as the hot stove season approaches.

All this week, we here at 985thesportshub.com will be evaluating whether or not the Red Sox should re-sign their major impending free agents and what it might cost to keep members of the 2018 team around for the long-term.

We kick off the series with Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel.

Oct 24, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) walks onto the field during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game two of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The likely cost:

Somewhere between $70 and $80 million over four to five years, a deal that would make Kimbrel the third-richest closer in the game after New York’s Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Janson of the Dodgers.

The argument for keeping Kimbrel:

Kimbrel has easily been one of the best closers in baseball since he burst onto the scene with Atlanta in 2011. He has made seven All-Star teams in the last eight seasons and has led the league in saves four times.

He has some of the best strikeout stuff in baseball, leading all MLB relievers with a 42 percent strikeout rate since arriving in Boston three years ago.

Kimbrel is a proven commodity, something that is more important now than ever before with the trend of bullpen usage in baseball.

It's hard to feel like the Red Sox have any in-house options to fill the closer's job, even with Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and impending free agent Joe Kelly pitching well in the playoffs.

Highly-touted bullpen prospect Durbin Feltman, a college closer, still has yet to throw a pitch at Double-A. Maybe Feltman is the closer of the future, but it's hard to view him as the closer in 2019.

The argument against keeping Kimbrel:

He nearly killed all of us on multiple occasions in October.

Kimbrel’s control is a major concern. He walked 31 batters in 62 innings and walked eight more hitters while hitting two with pitches in the postseason.

Now on the wrong side of 30, it's hard to imagine Kimbrel has anywhere to go but down. His best years are likely behind him. The warning signs are there and it will take a major financial commitment to keep him around.

The verdict:

Thanks, but no thanks. The Red Sox can spend $70 million in a better manner than on an aging closer with control problems. The best course of action is to let Kimbrel walk.

Prediction:

4 years, $72 million with the Atlanta Braves.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub's own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.