Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Rays emerge as potential landing spot for Craig Kimbrel

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

Former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel is still a free agent. Could he eventually land elsewhere in the American League East?

According to Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times, the Rays, who have jumped out to the third-best record in the American League at 24-14, have emerged as a suitor for Kimbrel's services.

"The Rays are among the teams keeping in touch" with Kimbrel, Topkin wrote. 

Kimbrel has also been linked to the Phillies, Braves, Nationals, and Brewers in recent months, but it remains to be seen what the level of interest is from those teams.

The right-hander will likely remain on the open market until the MLB draft in June, at which point the team that signs him would no longer have to surrender draft pick compensation to the Red Sox. That would likely deter the Rays, a small market team that relies heavily on drafting and developing, from signing Kimbrel prior to June 3.

Kimbrel was reportedly seeking a record-breaking contract this offseason at six-years and north of $100 million. Ken Rosenthal reported in April that the closer has since backed off those demands and is now looking for a deal in line with Wade Davis (three years, $52 million) and Zach Britton (three years, $39 million).

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.