The Chicago White Sox picked up Craig Kimbrel’s $16 million club option this offseason but that doesn’t mean he will be in a White Sox uniform during the upcoming season. The Craig Kimbrel saga on the Southside has been well documented.
During the trade deadline, the White Sox wanted to make a World Series push so they parted ways with their former first-round draft pick Nick Madrigal and a young promising arm in Codi Heuer to acquire a future Hall of Famer in Craig Kimbrel. Rick Hahn thought the move would bolster the bullpen and solidify the White Sox as American League frontrunners.
On paper, it looked like a great deal. Kimbrel was having an All-Star season. He was virtually untouchable with the Chicago Cubs, posting a 0.49 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP. He also racked up 23 saves and was holding opponents to a .106 batting average. The thought of him and Liam Hendriks in the back end of the bullpen was tantalizing.
Things quickly fell apart once Kimbrel arrived in the White Sox bullpen. He could never get comfortable in his new role as a setup man. Kimbrel got shelled to the tune of a 5.09 ERA and allowed 31 base runners in 23 innings. When Tony La Russa did give him save opportunities he converted only one of his four chances.
The Chicago White Sox are really considering a big Craig Kimbrel trade.
Things did not get much better in the postseason. He allowed a home run and two earned runs in Game 2 of the ALDS. He finished the series with a 9.00 ERA. Despite the struggles, Kimbrel is still a top-tier reliever.
The White Sox could decide to hang onto him and correct the situation but this is unlikely given that the White Sox owns the most expensive bullpen in baseball and just signed Kendall Graveman to be their new setup man.
With holes in right field and second base, getting Kimbrel’s $16 million off the books would give the White Sox some more financial flexibility to address these needs. There should be a healthy market for Kimbrel’s services. Closers with nearly 400 career saves and over 1,000 strikeouts are seldom available. Here are seven teams that could trade for Craig Kimbrel: