New York Mets Offseason Free Agent Candidate: Craig Kimbrel
By Tim Boyle
Craig Kimbrel is the number one closer on the free agent market this winter. Would the New York Mets actually consider signing him?
Do we even waste our time talking about the New York Mets signing Craig Kimbrel? The best closer on the open market, he’s the prized jewel for any team looking to find a bullpen savior. There’s no shot the Mets sign him, right?
Well, let’s not pass so quickly. I think we should all be prepared for a shocking transaction this winter. The Mets are due for a positive one.
Kimbrel spent the past three seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Each time, he put together an All-Star campaign. Through nine big league seasons, he’ owns an impressive 1.91 ERA and a total of 333 saves. At only 30-years-old, he’s as desirable of a reliever as you could create.
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Adding to the bullpen is a major quest for the Mets this winter. They don’t have the depth at reliever to give anyone much confidence. After Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, it’s hard to trust anyone at all.
Closers have received big deals over the past few winters. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Wade Davis, and others have re-set the market. Kimbrel’s abilities certainly warrant a deal bigger than any of theirs. As such, it’s hard to imagine this team as the ones who do it.
Let’s, for a second, consider a Kimbrel contract from a more optimistic outlook. There are multiple talented relievers available this offseason. Could this adjust the market when teams settle for the second-tier?
The team in Flushing is not alone. They aren’t the only ones who need a closer and would appear unwilling to pay for someone like Kimbrel. Others will also search for a closer and settle for guys like Zach Britton instead. Once those teams do find their next ninth-inning man, maybe the Mets can find a way to land Kimbrel. Crazier things have happened.
I won’t hold my breath on this one. Past free agent signings of closers haven’t worked out well. Most notably, the addition of Francisco Rodriguez did little to help a team with more needs.
Going after Kimbrel likely means sacrificing in another area. They can’t get him and bolster the bullpen further. An annual salary around $20 million is a reasonable guess for what he’ll take home. I don’t expect the Mets to put that much money toward any one player let alone a guy whose job is to pitch an inning per night.
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Thankfully, the closer market is deep. Maybe by seeing his asking price early and moving on fast, they can snatch up other needs while teams try to bring him to their city.