We all remember when the Chicago White Sox traded Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Craig Kimbrel. In hindsight, that was a mistake. However, at the time of the trade, it was absolutely the right move.
With the Cubs before the trade, he was magnificent. Then he got to the White Sox and they used him as a setup man when he is a Hall of Fame closer. There was no reason to not use both he and Liam Hendriks as a closer duo but Tony La Russa wasn’t thinking.
With the White Sox, Kimbrel was terrible which put a big stain on his season and career. It was clear from there that he wasn’t someone that should stick with the team going forward. He stuck with the White Sox for most of the offseason but was moved right before the season.
The Sox traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for AJ Pollock who had had a very nice career up to that point. Pollock had a down year with the White Sox but he had some good moments as well. It was a trade that hurt the Dodgers way more than the White Sox.
Kimbrel wasn’t great with them at all. They desperately needed a closer after Kenley Jansen left to play for the Atlanta Braves. While Jansen dominated all year long, Kimbrel was a liability. They still had the best record in baseball and it wasn’t close but Kimbrel was their one weakness.
Craig Kimbrel wasn’t good with the Chicago White Sox or Los Angeles Dodgers.
Normally, people put that blue and white uniform on and become great again but it didn’t happen for Kimbrel. As a result, he was left off their playoff roster. They had a bye in the Wild Card round but now they will host the division rival San Diego Padres.
It is going to be a hard series for Dodgers pitching as the Padres have some elite hitters like Manny Machado and Juan Soto amongst others to contain.
If they succeed and get past them, it will be interesting to see if Kimbrel goes in fresh for the NLCS with a berth in the postseason on the line. He has World Series championship experience in his career and that is valuable but he has to pitch well to be there. We will see.