Mets should stay away from free agent closer Craig Kimbrel
By Mike Marrano
The free agent market for relief pitchers runs deep. However, despite their need to add, the New York Mets should stay away from one of the most notable names, Craig Kimbrel.
The New York Mets have many needs. They must address the infield, bullpen, and disastrous catcher situation. With many relief pitchers on the market, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden expressed the Mets as a good fit for free agent Craig Kimbrel.
This comes as no surprise as with relief pitching being a big need for the team, the Mets can look at almost every relief pitcher this winter to help them bolster up the bullpen. As we go right into free agency season, the Mets must look past Kimbrel this off-season.
Kimbrel is coming off an All-Star year and his first World Series Championship. As a closer this year, he posted a five and one record with a 2.74 ERA. He also posted 42 saves on the year, which is the most he has had in four seasons, last coming in 2014 when he was with the Atlanta Braves. So why could it be a bad idea to sign a guy who is posting numbers like this?
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With the bullpen needing multiple signings in order for it to become an asset for the team again, it would not be a smart move spending a lot for Kimbrel, especially for a guy who is projected to get a four-year contract estimated at 68 million dollars.
His control has taken a huge step back in the 2018 season. His five blown saves on the year have come from his 4.5 walks per nine innings. That is his most since his rookie year in 2010 and a huge difference from 2017, where he averaged 1.8 walks per nine innings. He also gave up 31 walks in 2018, more than doubling that number then what he had in the 2017 season when he gave up only 14 walks.
Kimbrel’s control showed a big problem in this year’s playoffs with the Boston Red Sox. In two appearances against the New York Yankees in the Divisional Series, posted an 11.57 ERA with only 2.1 innings and could not close out game four right away, giving up two runs in the ninth and almost pushing the series to five games.
Throughout the rest of the playoffs, Kimbrel posted a 4.50 ERA against the Houston Astros in the Championship Series, and a 4.15 ERA in the World Series. Kimbrel would not close out the World Series for the Red Sox, instead, Alex Cora would call in Chris sale to put the finishing touches on Manny Machado to clinch the championship.
With Kimbrel coming off a very rocky postseason, it would be hard to imagine the Mets throwing that kind of money at a closer who comes with that big of a risk. Especially being 30 years old, a four-year contract may not want to be what the Mets want to be stuck with for the upcoming years when the plan is to contend right away next year.
Brodie Van Wagenen is just coming in at the General Manager position, he should play it smart, and observe deeper into the stacked relief pitching market the 2018 offseason has like players like Adam Ottavino, Andrew Miller, and Zach Britton, who also may come at a more affordable signing, which leaves room for more talent for the Mets 2019 roster.
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Should the Mets go after Kimbrel or do you believe there are better options out there?