There is no doubt about it, Craig Kimbrel is a top-five closer in baseball, and he has been since he entered the league. The question becomes, why is he still a free agent? I can understand why some position players like Mike Moustakas are not signed yet. Position players are not signed because they are waiting for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign. However, there is no explanation for Kimbrel to still be unsigned. With a closer of Kimbrel’s caliber, shouldn’t the Phillies go after him?
Since coming into the league in 2010, Kimbrel has amassed 333 career saves. This is in addition to his career 20.2 WAR and 1.91 ERA. He has also struck out 868 batters in just 532.2 innings. As you can see from the graphic, he ranks up with the best of them.
In his nine-year career, Kimbrel has been the full-time closer for eight of those seasons. In each of those eight seasons, he has never saved less than 31 games. He also has four seasons over 40 saves, and one season with 50. The seven-time all-star is one of the best closers in the last two decades, but he still remains unsigned.
Is the price too high for Kimbrel?
Jayson Stark reported in December that Kimbrel was looking for a six-year deal worth $100M. Although he is just 30 years old, a six-year deal for Kimbrel is not something I would like to see. I don’t think a contract like that would benefit the Phillies. With that being said, if the Phillies can get him for a cheaper price, it seems like a no brainer. Adding him to a bullpen with Seranthony Domínguez and David Robertson would most certainly give the Phillies the best bullpen in the NL East.
This brings us to another question, what is the Phillies’ breaking point? What is the highest the Phillies are willing to go to add a closer of this caliber?
Obviously, there is a huge factor that goes into this. Are the Phillies plaining on signing Harper and/or Machado? If they are (which I 100% think the Phillies will sign Harper) there will be less money to allot to Kimbrel. I’m sure if the Phillies really wanted him, they could figure out how to sign him. However, that isn’t the point. The idea is to add Kimbrel without having to get rid of the team.
Ideally, I think the best possible offer for both Kimbrel and the Phillies would be a three-year deal for $45M. That is $15M a year. I think a three-year deal is perfect for both parties.
Do the Phillies need Kimbrel?
I’m not sure if the Phillies “need,” Kimbrel. However, he definitely wouldn’t hurt the team. The Phillies have not had a shutdown closer since Brad Lidge. Yes, it has been that long. The only problem is with Gabe Kapler. Will Kapler use Kimbrel as a traditional closer or will he just be the Kapler of 2018? Honestly, who even knows? It will certainly be something fun to watch.
If you are a Phillies fan, I feel like you would love to add Kimbrel. But, I know that you don’t want to break the bank on this guy. So let me reiterate, I believe if the Phillies can get him for a cheaper price, go get him. Although he may not be 100% needed, he will most certainly help to continue to push the Phillies into contention.