During the 2021 season that went so well for the Chicago White Sox, they made a trade that created so much hype for themselves. They traded Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for Craig Kimbrel who had an ERA under 1 at the time.
This looked like a move that was going to push the White Sox over the edge. It was at a time when Michael Kopech was in the bullpen so having Kopech with Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks made them seem unstoppable. They described themselves as "The Ponytail Gang".
Unfortunately for the White Sox, Kimbrel was a complete disaster for them. After having an ERA of .49 with the Chicago Cubs in 39 games played, he had a 5.09 ERA in 24 games played with the Chicago White Sox. His decline by just switching to the other side of town was honestly wild to see.
Once the season was over, it was obvious that the White Sox were not going to keep him. Right before the 2022 season started, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for outfielder AJ Pollock who ended up being okay at best on the south side.
The Chicago White Sox didn't have success with the Craig Kimbrel trade.
With the Dodgers, like Pollock in the White Sox outfield, Kimbrel was okay at best. He had an ERA of 3.75. There were moments when he was fine but there were moments where he looked like he was with the White Sox again, He ended up being removed from the closer role before the year ended.
Now, the White Sox miserably failed Kimbrel. He is a Hall of Fame-level closer but they used him as a setup man for Liam Hendriks. When it was clearly failing like that, Tony La Russa couldn't think to make a chance. Pitching is a mindset and Kimbrel was just unable to make that transition.
Now, going into the 2023 season, Kimbrel has a new Major League home. He is going to the Philadelphia Phillies on a one-year deal worth 10 million dollars. That is not a bad contract for someone like him at all.
There are some ties there. Phillies GM Dave Dombrowski was the GM of the Boston Red Sox when they made the huge trade to get Kimbrel all of those years ago. Now, they are reunited in Philly which just won the National League.
Watching Kimbrel pitch against the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets on a regular basis is a bit scary to think about but it is a chance for him to turn his career back around. Although he didn't work out here, it would be nice to see him succeed in this league again.