Posted on November 15, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Boston Red Sox Craig Kimbrel

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There are a lot of great relief pitchers on the free agent market this winter. But most would agree that Craig Kimbrel is the best available. Coming off a World Series title with the Boston Red Sox, Kimbrel is bound to be in demand this winter. Any team that’s looking a bullpen upgrade this offseason, which is nearly every team in baseball, will have interest in Kimbrel. Let’s take a look at some of the top suitors expected to make a serious effort to sign Kimbrel.

Angels – 10%

The Angels have some nice bullpen pieces but no clear option in the closer’s role. If the Halos are going to compete in the AL West, they have to solidify the back end of their bullpen. It looks likely that the Angels will spend on relief pitching, which means there’s a good chance they make a push for Kimbrel.

Braves – 5%

Rather than go looking for an ace, the Braves may choose to upgrade their bullpen. Even with Arodys Vizcaino coming off a great year, they could still use Kimbrel, who began his big league career with the Braves, who may be interested in a reunion.

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Cardinals – 5%

It didn’t work out between St. Louis and Greg Holland last year, so the Cardinals will once again be in the market for a closer. Whether they want to spend the money it’ll take to land Kimbrel remains to be seen. But that’s a possibility that can’t be ruled out right now.

Cubs – 10%

The Cubs signed Brandon Morrow last offseason as a cost-efficient option at closer. He had a good year, but he was also held back by injuries. Chicago may not want to rely on him as their closer again, so Kimbrel could be an option. The Cubs are also under a little pressure after a disappointing finish in 2018. With the rest of the roster in good shape, the Cubs could spend big on the bullpen this winter, and that could mean going after Kimbrel.

Mets – 15%

The Mets need a major bullpen overhaul and will likely sign multiple relief pitchers this winter. New GM Brodie Van Wagenen has pledged that the Mets will spend and be in the mix on every big free agent. That need could spur the Mets to spend what it takes to sign a closer of Kimbrel’s caliber.

Phillies – 20%

The Phillies are the early favorites to sign Kimbrel just because we know they’re going to spend a lot this winter. They’re also in need of a bonafide closer. If they manage to land Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, they may not have enough to afford Kimbrel. But for the moment, they are a likely destination for the closer.

Red Sox – 15%

Surprisingly, the Red Sox are not the favorites to re-sign Kimbrel. Word out of Boston is that the club isn’t all that eager to outbid other teams for Kimbrel. That stance is a little surprising since the Red Sox will almost certainly have to open their checkbook for one of the marquee relievers on the market. Of course, both sides are clearly comfortable with one another, so there’s still a decent chance Kimbrel returns to the Red Sox.

Twins – 10%

Look for Minnesota to be a dark horse in the Kimbrel sweepstakes. The Twins used Fernando Rodney as their closer for most of 2018, but he’s no longer in Minnesota, so the club needs a new closer. Obviously, the Twins are a small-market club, so the odds are a little stacked against them. But there is definitely interest in Kimbrel, so if his price drops, the Twins may find the money they need to sign him.

The Field – 10%

As mentioned, there are a lot of teams that would love to sign Kimbrel. Essentially, any team that isn’t in rebuilding mode would love to add bullpen help this offseason. With Kimbrel being at the top of the class, there are only a few teams that can be ruled out of making a move for him.

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