Dissecting the Craig Kimbrel market

Rob Bradford
January 03, 2019 - 12:44 pm

A year ago the Red Sox perfectly read the J.D. Martinez market and ended up with a world championship for their efforts.

Are they primed for another success story this time around? For a second straight offseason, the Sox are seemingly mastering the art of the waiting game.

Dave Dombrowski made it very clear that he would not be allocating a big number of years or dollars toward finding a late-inning reliever. And with Craig Kimbrel's camp throwing around the desire for a six-year deal, and the Red Sox carrying around a long list of possible replacements, it appeared as though Kimbrel was firmly entrenched in the Sox' rearview mirror.

Now we are a few days into 2019, with spring training just about six weeks away, and nobody is budging. But it's hard to suggest the Red Sox don't possess the upper-hand.

So, what exactly is going on? Talking to major league sources, here is a synopsis of the situation:

Kimbrel's market would seem to be down to the Red Sox, Philadelphia and maybe Atlanta. (With the caveat, of course, that there are those tricky mystery teams laying in the weeds.) (Update: According to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, the Phillies appear to have found their closer, agreeing to a two-year deal with David Roberston.)

It should be understood that there has to be a need, there has to be a team ready to win now and there has to be the financial resources at the ready. For one reason or another, that eliminates the Yankees, Cleveland, Oakland, Dodgers and Colorado. The Astros are in somewhat of a money crunch and already have Roberto Osuna. The Cubs are restricted by luxury tax issues. And the Angels are more looking toward the next tier of relievers, a group made up of Adam Ottavino or Zach Britton.

Atlanta still represents a possibility, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos doesn't have a history of going down that route when it comes to closers, and the Braves already possess some interesting live bullpen arms.

That brings us to the Phillies.

Kimbrel's market seem to hinge on whether or not Manny Machado or Bryce Harper landed in Philly. If either one signed with the Phillies than that would seemingly take Kimbrel out of the mix, with Gabe Kapler's team most likely going after one of the cheaper relievers or just rely on Seranthony Dominguez to finish off its bullpen. Now, their remaining money will likely go to a starting pitcher, a need that was evident by Matt Klentak's pursuit of Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ and others.

Welcome to another January Hot Stove.