The camp for Red Sox closer and current unrestricted free agent Craig Kimbrel has informed teams that their client has entered the market looking for a six-year deal, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Teams being told that in initial ask, All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel is looking for a six-year deal.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 30, 2018
This is hardly shocking, as Kimbrel’s camp opened up the hot stove season calling their client the greatest closer in history. There’s also past production in Kimbrel’s favor, as his 333 saves between the Red Sox, Padres, and Braves rank as the 14th-most in MLB history, and with Kimbrel less than a decade into his professional career. Kimbrel also has a leg-up on the majority of his ‘competition’ in the free agent market, and posted the fifth-best 2018 WAR among current free agent relievers.
But it’s definitely shocking when you look at everything else around Kimbrel.
First of all, teams giving six-year deals to closers is almost downright ludicrous no matter the age. It tends to be a somewhat volatile position, and when the end comes, it comes fast (with obviously devastating results from a pure win-loss perspective).
Kimbrel is also 30 years old right now, with his 31st birthday coming in May 2019, and is coming off a year in which he blew five saves (the second-most of his career) and his ERA spiked in the regular season (Kimbrel’s regular-season 2.74 ERA was a 1.31 spike from what he posted in 2017). Kimbrel was downright scary throughout the postseason en route to a World Series, too, and he even straight-up apologized for giving Red Sox fans ‘heart attacks’ during his postseason run.
Given their own long list of long-term deals to be doled out in the foreseeable future, it’s hard to envision the Red Sox offering six years to Kimbrel, but it’s worth wondering just how high they’ll go in a market short on solidified replacement plans.