(Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Craig Kimbrel's free agent market likely to pick up next week

By Matt McCarthy, 985TheSportsHub.com

The calls for a reunion between Craig Kimbrel and the Red Sox have only grown louder in recent days, bolstered by the recent failings of the Boston bullpen.

But there are no indications the Red Sox are interested in bringing Kimbrel back to Boston. In fact, the organization has made it clear for months that they have no intention to re-sign Kimbrel.

The chances of the Red Sox re-signing their former closer seem slim at this point, and those chances will only decrease beginning next week.

When the clock strikes midnight and Sunday turns into Monday, the draft pick compensation that has lingered over Kimbrel's head will disappear. The team that signs Kimbrel will no longer have to forfeit one of their top picks, and the Red Sox will no longer receive a compensatory selection for their closer's departure.

It took a perfect storm to keep Kimbrel unemployed this long. Through no fault of his own, his decision to reject the one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox to pursue a long-term contract on the open market tied draft-related penalties to him. Former Cy Young award-winner Dallas Keuchel has been hurt by the same system that will surely be a major topic of negotiation when owners and players sit down to hash out a new collective bargaining agreement in the coming years.

But Kimbrel clearly hurt his chances of landing somewhere with his initial contract demands. He was reportedly seeking a record-breaking six-year contract north of $100 million, and didn't appear to back away from that ask until it was too late. Teams decided to wait Kimbrel out. He's still waiting.

But come Monday, the first day of the 2019 MLB Draft, part of the wait is over for Craig Kimbrel. His phone will likely ring again, and maybe this time he'll find the job he's been searching for since last November.

Kimbrel won't get the money he was hoping for, the Red Sox won't get the draft pick they were hoping for, and they still need a closer.

It's safe to say nobody won here.

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.