The Chicago White Sox have made a lot of great moves over the past few years. The rebuild has been executed to perfection which is really good news for them. They have made good signings, great trades that include prospects and veterans, and have done a nice job drafting. They were good enough to win 93 games and a division title in a year filled with injuries for a reason.
With all of the positives in mind, there have been a few mistakes along the way. One of them came during the summer when the White Sox acquired Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer.
It was a great trade at the time and most people would have done it at that moment. It made the back end of the White Sox bullpen of Craig Kimbrel, Aaron Bummer, Michael Kopech, and Liam Hendriks look impossible to beat. Unfortunately, despite looking good in the moment, it just didn’t work out.
Ahead of his trade to the White Sox, he was having a magnificent year with the Chicago Cubs. They used him as a pure closer (his natural position) and he thrived. He was a National League All-Star in 2021 because of his dominance in a Cubs uniform.
He is going to be a Hall of Famer and considered one of the best relievers ever so this wasn’t surprising. On the North Side, he had a 0.49 ERA, 0.709 WHIP, and 64 strikeouts in 36.2 innings. With numbers like that going into the deadline, every contending team wanted him.
Unfortunately, the White Sox used him as a setup man for Liam Hendriks and he failed. He had a 5.09 ERA, 1.217 WHIP, and 36 strikeouts in 23.0 innings pitched. The strikeouts were nice but he wasn’t very good in the 8th inning for the White Sox. They simply did not use him to his strengths and they suffered because of it.
2021 Final Grade: C
Craig Kimbrel gets a C for his 2021 season. It would be an A with the Cubs and a D with the White Sox but his struggles weren’t all his fault. They didn’t use him as a closer. It would have been very easy to use both Kimbrel and Hendriks as a closer to keep each other fresh but they just refused and suffered for it.
The thought is that Craig Kimbrel will be traded away. There are a lot of teams that would bring him in and use him the right way. If he goes to another team and is used exclusively as a closer, he will make the White Sox look even worse.
Hopefully, if they do trade him, they are able to slightly salvage what they gave up for him. He is a great pitcher that will be just fine as line as he is a closer. If the White Sox do in fact keep him, they could see him bounce back as well. Either way, expect a big year from Kimbrel in 2022.